Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rodda On Beck U

A biggie from Chris Rodda. Lots to watch and read on this snowy day for those of us in the Northeast.


Tom Van Dyke said...

When Barton gives his opinion on the meaning of the Danbury letter, it's a "lie." When Rodda gives her opinion that Barton says the Constitution is based on Deuteronomy [and there's nothing resembling a direct quote to that effect], it's fact.

This is absurd.

That said, she is correct and Barton is wrong about the Aitken Bible and the evangelization of the Indians [Jefferson didn't].

However, this is the same handful of minor points that represent most of the sum of Ms. Rodda's obsesssion with Barton, but the video format for her refudiations often lacks direct quotes from him, and so is of interest only to those who already hate Barton and what he stands for, not the undecided. No sane person is going to sit through such a mess.

What is of interest is that

---The Treaty of Paris is drafted in the name of the Trinity [an inconclusive factoid]

---Jefferson did attend Sunday church services held in the halls of Congress [a little known fact]

The rest is really trivia, but let the culture wars go on.

Ray Soller said...

Yes, it is a fact that Jefferson attended Sunday "church services" in the House Congressional Hall, but what is less well known is that there is no record of Jefferson or anyone in Congress having granted formal permission for public worship services within a federal facility.

Barton claims that:
[O]n December 4, 1800, Congress approved the use of the Capitol building as a church building.

The approval of the Capitol for church was given by both the House and the Senate, with House approval being given by Speaker of the House, Theodore Sedgwick, and Senate approval being given by the President of the Senate, Thomas Jefferson. Interestingly, Jefferson's approval came while he was still officially the Vice-President but after he had just been elected President.

Neither Fred Beuttler, Deputy Historian of the House, or James H. Hutson, Chief of the Library's Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, could substantiate Barton's claim. The best description for the attendees of these Sunday gatherings is that they were "Sunday Squatters."

Tom Van Dyke said...

The best description for the attendees of these Sunday gatherings is that they were "Sunday Squatters."

And what's your proof of that, Ray?

I do appreciate your clarification, tho, since our first concern is the facts. I'm just noting that in condemning Barton's sloppiness and leaping to conclusions, it's easy for his enemies to make the same damn errors the other way.

The truth of the matter is that after we dispense with the trivia, the US Government accommodated religion without endorsing or establishing any particular one.

If there's a takeaway beyond all this culture war, that's what I think is an incontrovertible fact we should all be able to agree upon.

And as Jon Rowe has noted, Jefferson had the Swedenborgians---a very unorthodox sect---in to hold at least one sermon and service themselves. In fact, if I recall correctly, the Swedenborgians' appearance was under the auspices of Jefferson himself. [Perhaps to shove one up the wazoos of the orthodox. Heh heh.]


170 Rev. John Hargrove Delivers New Church Sermon before Jefferson and Congress (1802)

John Hargrove (1750-1839) was one of the first New Church ministers ordained in America, and his ministerial career included several remarkable events. On December 26th, 1802, he delivered a sermon On the Leading Doctrines of the New Jerusalem to President Thomas Jefferson and members of Congress. Two years later in 1804 he delivered another sermon in Washington on Christmas day—On the Second Coming of Christ, and On the Last Judgment— this time before both Houses of Congress. His 1804 sermon is currently part of the Library of Congress exhibit, ”Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.“

bpabbott said...

Re: "The best description for the attendees of these Sunday gatherings is that they were "Sunday Squatters.""

Painted in a color I favor! :-)

However, I agree with Tom, this is as much a partisan speculation as is Barton's.

My understanding is that when the Congressional Hall was initially used for Church services it was the only building in the capital that was of sufficient size to house Sunday services ... and since it was empty on Sunday, I think it would be have been quite a grievous error to deny its use for Church services.

In addition, I seem to recall the details of these services being discussed before. Weren't there quite a few "social" activities coinciding with the services? The "squatters" seem to have included both secular and sectarian activities. As such, I don't see how there is any high ground for anyone here.

Ray Soller said...

Tom, I welcome any contribution you can make towards finding out whether these "Sunday Services" had any certified approval.

Till then, please check your email inbox.

Tom Van Dyke said...

No disagreement here, Ray. That was the "clarification" I said I appreciated.

My larger point is that many of the folks who parse Barton down to the nubs should be prepared for their own colonoscopy. Who watches the watchers?

Me. ;-)

Chris Rodda said...

Barton's claim regarding the approval of church services in the Capitol is that this was approved by both the House and the Senate. His reason for concocting this story is to make Jefferson have been involved in starting these church services. By claiming that the Senate had to approve these services in the House chamber, he gets Jefferson, as Vice President and president of the Senate, to somehow have been responsible for them. The truth is that the Senate had absolutely no involvement in the approval of this, and even the House didn't actually take any kind of formal action like a resolution saying that these church services would be held. The Speaker of the House just announced that the chaplains had asked if they could hold services in the House chamber on Sundays. Read the journals of Congress for yourself for December 4, 1800. Barton's claim is pure bull.

Barton's whole goal here is to make the man who coined the phrase "separation between church and state" have seen nothing wrong with the government promoting religion, and to have himself actively promoted Christianity by sending missionaries to the Indians, funding religious schools with government funds, starting the Capitol church services, signing his documents "in the year of our lord Christ, etc. Jefferson did none of these things. This isn't a matter of differing opinions. These are provable facts.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Sorry, Ms. Rodda, your recent posts at that other blog have been sloppy and sophistic. Just because Barton is, that doesn't shield your own work from the same criticism.

And I treated you more fairly than you treated Barton, Chris. I acknowledged the parts you got right.

Your video text accused Barton of claiming that Barton claimed half the signers of the D of I were ministers.

He did not. He claimed they "trained for the ministry," admittedly an exaggeration.

However, you exaggerated, too. He didn't claim what you claimed he did. He never said they were ministers. I won't make equivalences, but your work here is undersatisfactory.

Further, your headline on another post claimed he claimed the Constitution was based on Deuteronomy. Unless you have other evidence, he did not, in anything that resembles a direct quote.

See comment section here:

This is the sort of sophistry and spin you nail Barton on. I don't stalk you all over the internet, Chris, although I see your work approved uncritically by your partisans, although it's full of errors and sophistries itself. i remain silent. But when your work hits the shores of our American Creation blog, I give your work the same fisking you give Barton's, holding you to your own standards that you use to condemn others.

[And if we had a contributor or commenter who parroted Barton, he would get both barrels from me. But we keep that sort of thing out of here.]

As for the matter you write about, there were some private emails that I can't disclose [perhaps my correspondent will] where I made the same observation that Barton overshot his evidence by trying to enlist Jefferson as president of the Senate.

However, you overshot your evidence re Deuteronomy and the ministers issue too---unless you have some evidence resembling direct quotes that you haven't presented. Regardless, you should already have presented it in creating a fair and effective polemic via smoking gun-direct quote.

I have no use for any half-truths, and will not abide them here at this blog. I'm not going to chase you to blogs like Dispatches, which I believe do not rise to the level necessary to understand religion and the Founding. Too much noise, too much hate. There is no way to explore James Wilson and "the same adorable source" in such an environment.

Should you want a chapter and verse fisking of your recent "dispatches," I'll be happy to provide one. I have only hit the most egregious ones.

I have much admiration for and agreement with for much of your work, Ms. Rodda, and have always acknowledged where you are specifically correct. I've written often that on the Aitken Bible, you have Barton "cold." The Jefferson "evangelization" of the Native Americans too.

David Barton hurts his cause by leaving himself open to your well-founded criticisms. He should thank you. Perhaps someday, you'll thank me for mine or, unlike him, at least be interested in hearing them.

Always nice to hear from you, Chris. The door is always open here---or privately---and my criticism was directed at the public figure Chris Rodda, the polemicist and culture warrior. The person of Chris herself as an honest seeker would of course warrant even greater gentility.

Chris Rodda said...

Tom ...

Per your offer: "Should you want a chapter and verse fisking of your recent "dispatches," I'll be happy to provide one. I have only hit the most egregious ones."

I absolutely want to see your "chapter and verse fisking." Please post it here. I can't wait.

Tom Van Dyke said...

If you noticed, Chris, I don't post about you here on the mainpage. Or Barton. When the culture wars hit this blog, I deal with it in the comments sections.

And since you have no response or acknowledgement for what I already fisked here, any more would be a waste of time. In fact this culture war stuff is pretty much a waste of time anyway. It brings more heat than light, and gets us very little closer to the actual truth.

Chris Rodda said...

Put up or shut up, Tom. If you are going to claim to have found so many errors in my work, then let everyone here know what they are.

Tom Van Dyke said...

You didn't even thank me for pointing out the ones I already have. Until you correct them, there's no point in going further.

jimmiraybob said...

I have to agree with Chris. If you are going to level charges you should be honorable enough to present the evidence. Otherwise it looks a lot like mere slander....or polemics....or bad sportsmanship.

I think that it would be interesting to see what you have.

And even though you are always decrying the culture wars, you are in fact a participant as much as anyone. It's not a bad thing, I just think that you might do a little introspection and come to terms.

Tom Van Dyke said...
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Why should I add more, JRB? So you can ignore that too? Why would you be more interested in what I might write than you were in what I already wrote, which shows Ms. Rodda quite with her hand caught in the cookie jar.

When someone deals with what I already wrote, I'll be happy to add more. I won't have this turned back around on me; I'm not the one who screwed up.

bpabbott said...

What's good for the goose isn't good for the gander?

The statements by Barton/Beck on Deuteronomy and the "Founding documents" is so weak that I'm embarrassed to have even gotten involved.

Chris Rodda said...

OK, Tom, I'll play your little game. I'll address the things you've brought up so that you'll let us know what all those other errors you claim I've made are.

The text on the screen in Barton's Beck U class is "29 signers held seminary of Bible school degrees," and he says, "More than half the signers of the Declaration were trained for the ministry." Getting beyond the fact that this is simply not true (only one signer was actually a minister, one other had briefly become a minister but was kicked out of his church because of moral indiscretions, and two were sent to school to train for the ministry but ended up choosing other careers, one a merchant and the other a lawyer -- for a total of only four that even stretching it could be said to have trained for the ministry), what is Barton's motive in saying that more than half of them trained for the ministry? If you can think of some other possible reason for Barton making this claim other than that he wants people to believe that more than half the signers were ministers, please tell us.

Similarly, why are Barton and Beck connecting the book of Deuteronomy to our founding documents if not to make people think that these documents, which would of course include the Constitution, were somehow based on the book of Deuteronomy? Even if they don't come right out and say that the Constitution was based on the book of Deuteronomy, this is clearly what they are trying to get people to believe. So, again, I'll ask if you can think of any other possible reason for Barton to be connecting the Book of Deuteronomy to our founding documents. (Note also that Barton does directly state that parts of the Constitution came from the Book of Isaiah along with his allusion to a connection to Deuteronomy.)

The ball is now in your court.

Chris Rodda said...

Whoops ... typo in above comment ...the quote from Barton should be "29 signers held seminary or Bible school degrees," ("or" not "of")

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, I understood your arguments the first time. Your headlines were inaccurate and exaggerated. Barton simply didn't say what you attributed to him. That was my point. he didn't say they were ministers, nor that the Constitution was based on deuteronomy. Simply didn't say it.

Now shall I rub your nose in it and give you a lecture? Add on some ad hom about how you're a "liar" and your representations of things should not be trusted? Play your own game of delegitimization?

In the 3rd paragraph I gave you credit for what you got right, and in other spots, too. Do you accord the same evenhandedness to your ideological enemies? Do you tell the whole story of the issue at hand, and or just the parts that suit your own POV?

Are you aware of the "James Wilson" argument, the "adorable source" argument, which Barton mentions in the same set of paragraphs of the transcript? If you are not, you're not competently addressing his entire argument, and if you are aware of it, you're withholding necessary and vital context and evidence.

Basically, Barton exaggerates, you exaggerate what he says until it's a "lie." This is no way to do history, and that is my objection, Ms. Rodda. You can do what you want out in there in the Bearded Spock universe, but when it hits this blog, I'm going to note it.

Chris Rodda said...

Tom …

Why do you keep bringing up James Wilson? I'm just not getting what a quote from him about Nature's Law and where people get their morals from has to do with Barton's claim that half the Declaration signers trained for the ministry or a connection between Deuteronomy and our founding documents. Please explain why you think this Wilson quote is relevant to either of these Barton claims.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Actually, my problem was with your [and they are direct quotes] that Bartons said they were ministers, and that the Constitution was based on Deuteronomy. He didn't say either of those things.

As for the James Wilson, according to him the law of nature and the law of revelation flow from the same adorable source and "It is, indeed, preposterous to separate them from each other."

By glossing over the "revelation" part here, we have missed the entire point.

jimmiraybob said...

Why should I add more, JRB? So you can ignore that too?

Not so much ignoring as traveling and visiting with family for the holidays. I made a brief attempt earlier but it doesn't show up. Unpacking now will try to comment further later.

In the meantime, as to what appears to be your main argument, it's that you are looking for a literal transcript of Chris's frame in Barton's argument. However, Barton is using inference to draw an equivalency while maintaining the very deniability that you raise - "I(he) have(did) not actually used those words." It's an old school-yard tactic that's often used in politics and rhetoric.

Chris is right in calling Barton on this. Barton is a political/religious advocate using distorted history as a weapon. Chris is trying to preserve the integrity of the historical record. Not the same. Not that she can't make mistakes but I just don't see it so far.

Now that I'm home and no longer a human jungle gym for the nieces, I'll take a closer look.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I simply say that both are being sophistic, stretching the facts through rhetoric. Clearly it doesn't bother you when Ms. Rodda does it, only those who are on your wrong side. There's nothing I can do about that, and I'm not going to restate my objection for the nth time.

If you examine the transcript, Barton attempts to introduce the James Wilson argument, but it gets lost in the shuffle. Let me further add that Barton is not coherent in his thesis, and argues by amassing factoids.

I get the impression the best parts of the argument are those he has copped from other scholars, and which he doesn't quite fully understand himself. To defend his short-hand, and the shorthand he's further obliged to use on a talk show gets us nowhere except squabbling at the surface level.

And you have returned this whole thing again to Square One, JRB, although clearly through no fault of your own. But I'm obsessed by neither Rodda nor Barton, and frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. The newer posts are far more interesting, insightful and nourishing. This "James Wilson" discussion can be picked up in Mr. Naum's new post about [secularist] David Sehat's new book where he claims

The morality enforced in law often came from Protestant Christian ideals and was presented as such. Foreign observers, including John Stuart Mill and Tocqueville, saw this dynamic with particular clarity and were keen to point out that religiously derived, moral coercion seemed endemic to American society and government.

This proposition would make David Barton smile from ear to ear, and Chris Rodda now has a new figure to train her guns on, and a more interesting one---a secular scholar with presumably real credentials and greater scholarly rigor.

We can take our leave of the culture wars and ad homs and sophistry and Glenn Beck and return to our regularly scheduled program, principled discussion of religion and the Founding.

Chris Rodda said...

Oh, well, I guess we're not going to see that "chapter and verse fisking" of my work that Tom offered to provide. I was so looking forward to that.

Tom Van Dyke said...
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Tom Van Dyke said...
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Tom Van Dyke said...

No point. You looked directly at "the law of revelation" and either didn't see it or purposely ignored it.

"[H]ow shall we, in particular instances, learn the dictates of our duty, and make, with accuracy, the proper distinction between right and wrong; in other words, how shall we, in particular cases, discover the will of God? We discover it by our conscience, by our reason, and by the Holy Scriptures. The law of nature and the law of revelation are both divine: they flow, though in different channels, from the same adorable source. It is, indeed, preposterous to separate them from each other."---James Wilson

I can't do any better than black and white. Nor can I proceed in the face of such disingenuousness; you have not returned my courtesy and good faith.

The morality enforced in law often came from Protestant Christian ideals and was presented as such. Foreign observers, including John Stuart Mill and Tocqueville, saw this dynamic with particular clarity and were keen to point out that religiously derived, moral coercion seemed endemic to American society and government.

This is where the rubber meets the road. If David Barton had written that, you'd be having a cow about now. Your interest is clearly not in the whole truth, for if you were, you'd be out of business, Chris. I understand your dilemma---you have invested heavily in David Barton and now you're stuck with him.

But you can't refute Barton's larger thesis because you haven't done the necessary homework to understand it. So you're left with catching him in rhetorical excesses.

But now you've been caught doing what you trash him for. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Me, the closest thing to peer review that you have.

Tom Van Dyke said...
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Chris Rodda said...

Hey Tom …

You may want to double check that quote from David Sehat's book. I'd suggest getting the actual quote from Sehat's book, rather than relying on someone else's blog post, from which you have copied a misquote. Very sloppy work, and quite ironic, for someone who's polemically criticizing someone else for using a headline that isn't an exact quote.

Lindsey Shuman said...

Hehehe. Very nicely done, Kris. Tom the next thing for you to do is open mouth, lift leg and insert foot. You got your ass kicked pretty hard here. Go find a hole and bury yhourself in it.

Kris, I just found the link to your book. I am going to get it on Amazon.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Perhaps, Ms. Rodda. But the topic isn't David Barton here, although you keep trying to turn it back on him. The topic isn't me, whom you're attempting to counterattack, again to divert the focus. The topic is you and your screw-up[s].

For the record, I source the stuff I print on mainpages [like your attack on Barton] less rigorously in comments section, so that ideas can be tried out.

I accepted the Sehat quote because it came from Mr. Naum, who is on the same "team" ideologically as you, and would have no motive to lie.

Further, even if Sehat didn't exactly say that, Tocqueville did. this is the core historical question, and why your game of "gotcha" is not a sincere attempt and history and understanding, only sophism and culture war.

You are clearly bnot interested in the underlying historical truths, only playing gotcha.

And in this case, you were the one who was got.

Although as we see above, you will always have your uncritical supporters, who have their knives out for Barton-types, but will always give you a free pass. This is the irony, of course, which is lost on such types.

Lindsey Shuman said...

Once again you try to deflect the attention off of the fact that you've been exposed, Tom. This is example 999,999,999 of you making a horse's ass of yourself in the comments section of this blog. If you only knew how many people left this blog because of you, Tom. If you only knew how many good, talented people wouldn't join because of you, Tom. My biggest regret is not cutting you from here before I left.

The score is Kris Rodda: 1,000 v. Tom: -10

Chris Rodda said...

Tom said: "Further, even if Sehat didn't exactly say that, Tocqueville did."

So, Tom, let me get this right -- you're saying that even if someone didn't exactly say something, it's OK to say they did if it's close enough, and it's clearly what they meant. (I think I can safely say "checkmate" here.)

Tom Van Dyke said...

You can say whatever you want. Your object was to keep me writing until you could find some phrasing to parse. You are disinterented in truth, the way of the sophist.

But you screwed up, Chris, and put words in Barton's mouth he didn't say. You cannot bury that fact no matter how many words and tactics you try.

Lindsey Shuman said...

You are unbelievable, Tom, unable to admit when you've been completely destroyed! You've been exposed here. Man up and take it. Are you just pissed that a woman defeated you? That she exposed you for the complete derailing you just had? You're worse than even RutherFRAUD in the above posts.

Do us all a favor and just crawl away, defeated and humiliated.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Clearly, the fair-minded person would have put Ms. Rodda on the spot for her assertion that Mr. Naum misquoted David Sehat, since no proof was offered.

But that's not how this game is played. However, every response just digs Ms. Rodda's hole deeper and reveals the bankruptcy of the tactics being used.

For the only relevant historical question is Tocqueville. All the rest is sophistry.

Lindsey Shuman said...

You are a sad, pathetic shell of a man, Tom. It isn't Kris but rather you who has dug a deep hole. Kris doesn't even have a hole. You need to crawl in, have a nice long cry and then pretend this all goes away. And you can try to ignore my comments all you want, I know you read them.

Chris Rodda said...

Wow, Tom. This is bad, even for you. I assumed it would go with out saying that my source was Sehat's book. Yep, my "tactic" was to actually look up the quote in the book that was supposedly being quoted.

And, for the record, I agree with Sehat's statement. His point that Tocqueville observed an America in which much of the religiosity was caused by coercion rather than genuine religious devotion is an important one.

And, speaking of quoting Tocqueville, I'd like to hear Tom's explanation of why David Barton always delete's the part of Tocqueville's quote about religion thriving in America in which Tocqueville attributes this to the "complete separation of church and state," and says that everyone he talked to in America agreed with that. Is that just another one of Barton's "honest" mistakes?

Tom Van Dyke said...

My point was that nobody questioned you on the Sehat thing. You didn't say how Naum misquoted. I didn't say you were wrong, Chris.

The morality enforced in law often came from Protestant Christian ideals and was presented as such..

OK. There's the source of the morality.

Societies coerce. Nothing unusual there.

Neither have I ever questioned Tocqueville's observation that religion succeeded in America better than in Europe partly [or mainly] because there was no established state church. You're throwing spaghetti against the wall, hoping something sticks so you can claim a draw here. But again, it's just parsing my wording, not concerning yourself with any truth.

You can't turn this around on me by banging the table louder. My first comment in this thread still holds, even after all this nonsense and counterattack. You screwed up.

Chris Rodda said...

Tom, I don't care whether or not YOU have questioned Tocqueville (and he actually said "the complete separation of church and state," not just your Barton-esque toned-down version of "no established church"). I asked for your explanation of why David Barton always delete's the part of Tocqueville's quote where he attributes the thriving of religion in America to the "complete separation of church and state." I want to know if you think Barton's consistent omission of this very clear statement by Tocqueville is just another one of his "honest" mistakes?

Tom Van Dyke said...

I don't know, Chris. I'm not ever going to defend David Barton chapter and verse. In the 3rd paragraph of my original comment, I gave you credit where you "have him cold." I also showed where you overstepped your evidence and put words in his mouth he didn't say. You got a fair shake.

I also said that he argues by factoid and is not coherent in his overall thesis. Now you throw out your representation of something Barton "always" says, and were right back to Square One. This is a bad way to do history, through the parsing of paraphrases, and certainly via David Barton.

Where he is on solid---or at least valid ground---is what he's echoing from some other scholars, that chaplains in the army and in congress, and the "loan" of gov't buildings to churches during the construction of the city of Washington belies the 2010 understanding of "strict" separation of church and state. there was an accommodation on the "pluralist" level that fell well short of establishment.

Further, that there's a difference between "church and state" [establishment] and "faith and state," which Avery Dulles called "the Deist minimum," and by corollary, I have called "the Franklin limit," that no more dogma could be accepted into the American "civil religion" than Ben Franklin could assent to.

On the other hand, per the "James Wilson" argument, there was a "biblical minimum" below which the orthodox could not agree to, and it is this: that no law was valid that explicitly denied the content of the Bible.

Fortunately for the Founding era, via the James Wilson argument---as well as by extension, Alexander Hamilton and William Blackstone---the Bible and the natural law come from the "same adorable source" and therefore cannot be in conflict. The Bible never had to explicitly figure into political debate because natural law arguments could be used in parallel, thus dispensing with dogma and Biblical interpretation battles.

And if you use the search function, you find my monograph on Franklin and the Bible, which he read every day and tried to live, deism having had a desultory effect on his character. He was fine with the Bible outside the dogma wars [except for the story of Jael, which he found perverse.]

So here I am back at the Charlie Brown and the football thing, according good faith and courtesy rather than follow my natural temptation to return measure for measure. Barton argues by factoid, and when he finds a reference to God in the Founding literature, gleefully runs with it without due consideration of context. This incompetence is proven by things like his use of the John Adams quote about the Holy Ghost, which was meant sarcastically, not piously. Whatever Barton gets right is by happy accident, or is an echo of something a more solid and thoughtful scholar has said. And again, admittedly, the echoes are not always true, but that is also the case in what I pointed out in my very first comment, that that door can swing both ways.

This blog is really worth reading, as much of the above has been covered here. Although the idea of a "biblical minimum" struck me as I was writing this. So thanks for the conversation. Principled discussion is almost always fruitful, and the door is always open here to a person of your erudition. Should you want to review the Sehat book, I'll be honored to post it with you as a guest blogger, without comment or addition.

Except in the comments section, of course. ;-)


Brad Hart said...


It's nice that you want to get more involved as a semi-regular commentator but please check the nonsense at the door. We're working really hard to keep it civil here, and the "you're wrong, I'm right" B.S. isn't constructive. I don't know (and don't care) what this debate is about (I didn't read the earlier comments on this thread and probably won't). All we ask is for some civility.