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April 4, 2011

Republicans vs. Religion & History
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:41 PM * 96 comments

As you may know, New Hampshire is another of the states with Republican-dominated legislatures that are trying to bust unions, remove collective bargaining rights, and otherwise support the bosses against the common people. And as you might expect, there have been rallies against this attempt to give the bosses even more power than they already have.

From today’s Union Leader:

[Manchester bishop] McCormack joined Jewish, Episcopal and other religious leaders at a massive State House rally Thursday to protest deep cuts in the House-passed budget, saying the spending plan would disproportionately hurt the poor, elderly, disabled and most vulnerable citizens in the state.

The bishop also took aim at the Republican-dominated House’s attempts to restrict public employees’ collective bargaining rights. Addressing the 4,000 to 5,000 protesters, McCormack cited the Catholic Church’s long-standing teaching that labor organizing is a “fundamental human right” and noted the “indispensable role” trade unions perform in promoting justice, especially during hard economic times.

So, how did the Republicans respond?
In response, [House Majority Leader David I.] Bettencourt attacked the bishop in a Facebook posting the next day in which the lawmaker called McCormack a “pedophile pimp who should have been led away from the State House in handcuffs with a raincoat over his head.”
Those of us who have done time in Internet forums will recognize the purest form of ad hominem.

Why is this a fallacy?

The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).
Suppose Bishop McCormack is a pedophile pimp. That doesn’t mean that Republican union busting won’t disproportionately hurt the poor, elderly, disabled, and most vulnerable citizens in the state.

How did his fellow Republicans react to Bettencourt’s comments?

[House Speaker William] O’Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican, has said he shares Bettencourt’s opinions, but would have stated them more gracefully.

Speaking of labor, and the North-East states, over in Maine, the Republican governor, Paul LePage, has ordered murals showing American workers on the job be removed from the Maine Labor Department’s headquarters.
This week, Maine’s Republican governor, Paul LePage, went forward with his effort to scrub Maine’s Labor Department building clean of any reference to the movement that was responsible for the creation of that department: the union movement.

LePage argued that references to the union movement or union leaders were inappropriate in this state building (“one-sided,” his spokesman said) and ordered the removal of an 11-panel mural depicting workers in which unions also were portrayed in a favorable light.

At the same time, Maine’s labor commissioner has announced that she is erasing the names of labor leader Cesar Chavez; the first female presidential Cabinet member, Frances Perkins; and other pro-union figures from the Labor Department conference rooms that were named in their honor. She is holding a contest to come up with new, and presumably less labor-friendly, names.

May I suggest the Josef Stalin Room, the Triangle Shirtwaist Room, the Sago Mine Room, and the Upper Big Branch Mine Room.
Comments on Republicans vs. Religion & History:
#1 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 08:52 PM:

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there.
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

#2 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 08:59 PM:


As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.

#3 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 09:00 PM:

Ummm. So, the Bishop is not in good political shape re: sexual abuse by priests. Nor is His Holiness. That doesn't negate the first(?) encyclical of Benedict on Labor (The one that Teresa cited in it's full glory). It's been in my mind frequently as this unfolds in statehouses across the country.

The republicans' only response seems to lie in these logical fallacies. And why are people having such a hard time just seeing through it...?

#4 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 09:18 PM:

sisuile #3: What we're seeing here are the true consequences of that priestly abuse scandal, and the RCC's corruption thereby. People have been saying for months that the scandal undercut the Church's moral authority. Now, enter someone unscrupulous enough to attack that weakness directly... and we see the result.

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 09:29 PM:

If that's the best that O'Brien and Bettencourt can come up with, they're essentially admitting that the bishop's remarks are true.

Otherwise why wouldn't they refute the substance of his address?

#6 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 09:34 PM:

Jim, 5: 9/11! Your arguments are irrelevant.

#7 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 09:55 PM:

May I suggest the Josef Stalin Room, the Triangle Shirtwaist Room, the Sago Mine Room, and the Upper Big Branch Mine Room.

Unfortunately, this current gang of GOP weirdos would probably see those as inspirational murals and add a few more to round out the collection: the Deep Horizon oil well leak, the Centralia mine fire and Love Canal.

#8 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 10:08 PM:

James D. Macdonald #5:

If that's the best that O'Brien and Bettencourt can come up with, they're essentially admitting that the bishop's remarks are true.

Spoken like a sane and rational person.

Which Bettencourt &co. would use as evidence for your clear sympathies with the Gay Communist Druggie Witches responsible for the bank crises, the unemployment rates, and the 9/11 attacks.

Best get to the barricades....

#9 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 10:39 PM:

And a portrait of Andrew Carnegie in one or another of them, I'd think. The Deepwater Horizon Room would, of course, have a portrait of John D Rockefeller, the first one.

#11 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 10:43 PM:

Never mind what other Catholic priests have or haven't done; absent legal proceedings against him personally, McCormack has an open-and-shut case of libel against Bettencourt.

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 10:45 PM:

#9 P J Evans The Deepwater Horizon Room would, of course, have a portrait of John D Rockefeller, the first one.

No, the portrait of John D. Rockefeller would go in the Ludlow Massacre Room.

#13 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 11:38 PM:

I knew it would fit in somewhere, although I was going for the oil-spill room because oil is what he's most associated with, for most of us.
Maybe a Pullman room for Carnegie?

#14 ::: Kristi Wachter ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 11:43 PM:

(Minor thing: is the formatting slightly borked? I would have thought you'd want to outdent again at "Those of us who have done time in Internet forums will recognize the purest form of ad hominem." Currently, it kind of looks to me like that sentence is part of how the Republicans reacted, which is not, I think, what you meant.)

#15 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 01:02 AM:

"May I suggest the Josef Stalin Room, the Triangle Shirtwaist Room, the Sago Mine Room, and the Upper Big Branch Mine Room."

Break out the spray cans!

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 01:58 AM:

OTOH, the Republicans on the Supreme Court just opened the door wide for tax money to go to religious schools, "ruling that special tax credits that pay for children to go to church schools cannot be challenged on constitutional grounds."

#17 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:08 AM:

Voucher segregation.

#18 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:20 AM:

Lee: The case isn't quite so open and shut, as the bishop is a public figure. I suspect this case, given the infamous nature of the charge, is such that case could be made, and might prevail, but it's not a clear as it looks on first blush.

#19 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:34 AM:

Terry Karney @18

Public figure or no, Bettancourt has made statements that amount to an accusation of a crime. "Pedophile" maybe you could get away with, but "pedophile pimp" not so much (particularly since the bit about handcuffs suggests that he is intending to talk about a crime).

Further, if he believes his statement to be true, shouldn't he have reported this to the police? Either he's a liar, or else he's an accessory to pedophile pimping and should be led away from the State House in bracelets.

#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:34 AM:

It is also possible that Bettencourt could make a claim of legislative immunity.

#21 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:35 AM:

"May I suggest the Josef Stalin Room, the Triangle Shirtwaist Room, the Sago Mine Room, and the Upper Big Branch Mine Room. "

While Josef Stalin was no friend of labor, I'm curious about the train of thought that went "disaster of capitalist exploitation," "disaster of capitalist exploitation," "disaster of capitalist exploitation," "totalitarian dictator."

#22 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 03:43 AM:

Emma Goldman, thou shouldst be living now

Preferably with a pair of .45s

And a full bandolier of ammo

And if at all possible an invisible airplane

Because you've got a lot of jobs to get round

And you don't want to mess it up like poor Alex.

#23 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 03:47 AM:

I wondered how the hell the clown expected to get away with remarks like that, and then I Googled on Bishop McCormack's less than stellar record on the abuse scandal. I still sort of wonder at the scorched-earth extremity, but I'm no longer surprised that Bettencourt doesn't expect to be taken to court about it.

The lad has now reflected that he might nonetheless be taken to the electoral cleaners about it, and has offered about the worst of all possible pseudo-apologies: that he was substantively right, but men of God get a special pass on being called on such matters. Ych y fi oy!

There is also an unconfirmed rumour that Bishop McCormack believes in the global roundist agenda, and has been strongly influenced by a mysterious bearded sandal-wearing seditionist of Middle Eastern extraction, whose pro-tax, anti-family, and anti-capitalist rantings are notorious for undermining the very moral foundations of the Republic. I hope his fellow-travellers in these matters now understand the kind of company they've been keeping - that's all!

#24 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 04:37 AM:

Ummh, alex @22, no, that kind of rhetoric is not cool.

David Harmon @4, I guess you mean aside from the fact that a lot of children got abused.

Back to the topic... Haven't a lot of
other Republicans complained loudly about these dirty hippy commies who attack such a great traditional Christian institution over some silly abuses that happen everywhere and that are clearly caused by the depraving influences of the modern world anyway?

And- is this the same New Hampshire legislature Republican leadership that defended this one elderly Republican (now ex-) legislator when he said (or wrote) that Hitler was right about killing "defectives"?

#25 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 05:24 AM:

Devin: The addition of pimp actually makes the public figure aspect of it more defensible, since the charge is in effect being leveled at McCormack's role as bishop, and the behavior of the episcopacy has been less than stellar; completely irrespective of any specific actions McCormack may have taken.

#26 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 06:09 AM:

Dude, in a world where an elected legislator can publicly call a bishop a pimp, I think I can dream of what a long-dead heroine might do if she had an invisible airplane.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 06:37 AM:

TexAnne @ 6... 9/11! Your arguments are irrelevant

What's that about about Xopher's birthday?

#28 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 06:39 AM:

"May I suggest the Josef Stalin Room, the Triangle Shirtwaist Room, the Sago Mine Room, and the Upper Big Branch Mine Room."

Hell, just put "Arbeit Macht Frei" over the doors.

#29 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 07:35 AM:

This is typical BS from the republicans. Reading about Maine and the Reed Act makes me think of what is happening here in NJ. Our governor is making all these idiotic cuts and costing the state money since he is cutting everything that the Fed government helps foot the bill for.

#30 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 07:50 AM:

Lila #1:

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of the goons, and the ginks, and the company finks, and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys came 'round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 07:52 AM:

David Harmon #8: You mean the "Gay Communist Muslim Druggie Witches".

#32 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 07:54 AM:


In your own head, yes. In public, when death threats and police impersonation are being used against unions in WI? No.

Dunno about elsewhere, but really guys this should be pretty obvious from a logistics point of view. You don't say violent stuff without the logistics to back it up. Otherwise, you end up joining up with the folks who died at Haymarket, Pullman, and US Steel among many others. Legally. And I am really not interested in the bloodbath that results when the Feds can legally call up the army over union issues.

wanders off wondering what on earth they're teaching kids on unionization these days

#33 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 07:56 AM:

As far as legislative immunity goes, I can't quite see how a posting on Facebook can be ranked with something said during a debate or a committee hearing.

#34 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 08:20 AM:

I'm thinkin' the H.C. Frick Room has a nice sound. Let us never forget Carnegie's graceful exit to vacation in Scotland while Mr. matters at Homestead.

Or we could lump em' all together and go for the Allan Pinkerton Room. I suppose in Pennsylvania, they'll want to rename a state conference room for James McParland.

Alas, David Harmon at #4 has it, though--if that's the best they can come up with, they haven't got anything of substance, but those scandals make an outstanding winged Victory of Samothrace to distract the baying mobs with.

#35 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 08:29 AM:

And how about the Hamlet Chicken Processing Plant Room? But then I suppose if we keep it up, we could come up with many more room names than rooms.

Why not Stalin? He certainly didn't treat workers well.

Was delighted to be at a rally yesterday that had singing - a local NAACP leader spoke beautifully and broke out into civil rights songs - which led to the crowd joining in, and to spontaneous singing later in the program. (I find I need to sing to encourage myself.)

#36 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 09:39 AM:

Raphael #24: The harm to the children is the result of the abuse itself. This is the result of the RCC sheltering the abuse, letting it fester, covering it up, stonewalling when it was discovered, and so on.

#37 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 09:49 AM:

And yeah, it sounds like I'm missing the point here, but I'm not. The RCCs actions were what continued and multiplied the abuse, but the thing it, this is not a new problem, not by centuries. Any organization could find a circle of pedophiles in their midst, root them out, deliver them for punishment, and soberly consider their mistakes. The RCC did basically the opposite. And they call themselves moral authorities?

But... the attention these days is almost all on the current victims, but the thing is, , not by centuries. These past years, RCC had an opportunity to face up to itis an ancient organization; these past years

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 10:06 AM:

From The Nizkor Project:

An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of "argument" has the following form:
  1. Person A makes claim X.
  2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
  3. Therefore A's claim is false.
#39 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 10:08 AM:

Sorry, that last like was part of a rant I decided was digressive. Basically, they had a chance to root out an ancient evil, and utterly failed their test.

#40 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 12:24 PM:

Ugh. Gratifying as it is to see the RCC losing moral authority...why, why, why is their moral authority only challenged when they're right?!?!?!?!

I guess it's because if you fundamentally believe in logic, you won't use ad hominem arguments even against people who "deserve" them, because you know they don't address the actual objections. Of course, if you're a Republican all you're trying to do is distract your Fox-watching idiot constituency from the point the guy raised, and of course you have no conscience whatsoever, so don't care if you lie to them (and knowingly presenting fallacious arguments is IMO a species of lying).

(I'm ranting here, and overstating the case. Of course I know that there are Republicans who have consciences, at least a passing familiarity with logic, and scruples about lying. They really should leave the party, though, because as a whole...not so much. And there are Republican voters who aren't Fox-watching idiots, too...but this bozo wasn't trying to reach THEM.)

When are we going to find a tactic that only the good guys are willing to use?!?! (Never, because tactical scruples are a good-guy trait. Meh. It's annoying.)

#41 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 01:10 PM:

@39: I'm wondering (no, I take that back -- I'm *not* wondering) if latent anti-Catholicism on the part of the evangelical community also plays a part in this. I think that even if (say) the Southern Baptists had as big a pedophilia problem as the RCC, you still wouldn't see the Republicans denouncing a leading pastor.

Regardless, I think you're largely right: if you're going to be a moral authority, you need to make sure your own house is in order before you speak up. And the RCC has definitely not been good about that.

And @40: Ad hominems aside, Democrats are, in large part, terrified of anyone who claims moral authority. Which means that Democrats tend to let the other side claim the moral high ground, even when they shouldn't.

#42 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 01:51 PM:

LMM, #39: I would not be one bit surprised to find that the SBC -- or, for that matter, the Church of Christ or any of the cult-of-personality mega-churches -- had a pedophilia problem. It's one of the things which can easily develop in any structure under which hierarchy is paramount and the organization claims ultimate control over people's family lives.

#43 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 01:53 PM:

Oops, braino -- that was supposed to be LMM @41; I knew the number was wrong, but forgot to re-check and correct it before posting.

#44 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:31 PM:

Trying to make more sense of this bizarrerie... are we sure this is a true ad hominem? Inasfar as it's a response to McCormack's arguments on the basis of common reason, it surely is. But inasfar as it's a response to the Bishop's argument from a supposed position of moral authority:

McCormack cited the Catholic Church’s long-standing teaching that labor organizing is a “fundamental human right”
a valid argument against the Catholic Church's teaching having an inherent claim to moral authority makes this citation less effective, or even counter-productive - as if, in the extreme, someone were to cite the moral authority of the Mafia in the same cause. (That Lenin believes the sky is blue should help confirm that the sky is blue, because Lenin is no dim dude; that Lenin believes your political conduct to be admirable should ring alarm bells, unless you also believe Lenin's political morality to be admirable.)

Of course, since Bettencourt identifies as a 'practising Catholic', and expresses belated respect for the hierarchy to boot, even this interpretation can't save his own claim to rationality or consistency. But it does suggest that he may not be so much indulging in an ad hominem argument, as an amorphously self-righteous temper tantrum.

#45 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:41 PM:

LMM @41, Lee @42--the reason the pedophilia scandal in the Roman Catholic Church takes the shape it does is the heirarchical nature of the organization--individal congregations may have a problem with an individual priest, but must rely on his superiors in the church's structure to deal with him. Baptists and the Church of Christ have structures where the indiviual churches operate independently when it comes to hiring and firing personnel, and can get rid of someone without waiting around for someone else to say it's all right. The question then becomes, do they put out the word as to why the person was dismissed? Do they report the person to the legal authorities, or urge the victim/victim's parents to do so? They may or may not do so, but it's a failure of that individual church, not of the entire Southern Baptist Convention, or whichever group the congregation is affiliated with.

We haven't heard of similar problems among the more hierarchical denominations such as the Methodists, Episcopalians/Anglicans, and the different Orthodox Churches for various reasons-the Methodists and the Episcopalian/Anglican groups probably don't have such rigid hierarchies, in comparison to the Roman Catholic Church, for example, and are more vulnerable to pressure from below. I'm not sure what explanation, if there is an explanation, applies to the Orthodox churches, but it may be their relatively smaller size that makes a difference there.

It was not the presence of the problem in the Roman Catholic Church that was the shocker; it was the extent, duration, and comprehensive failure of leadership to handle the problem effectively that created the shitstorm which has yet to die away. In too many dioceses, the problem didn't just crop up in a single location, get stomped on, with comprehensive punishment for the offender and anyone who tried to conceal their misdeeds--it kept going, and going, and going, with the offenders never being dealt with in a final and conclusive manner. (It should be noted that there have been dioceses and orders that did handle things the right way--the problem is that they appear to have been the exceptions to the rule, rather than the rule, and in such things, appearance counts for a lot--if you have twelve good examples, and three bad ones, we will notice, remember, and comment on the three, partly because the bad is so bad.)

Getting back to the issue of labor, think they'll do something special to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Bay View Masacre this year? Rusk was another Republican governor...

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:46 PM:

It's an ad hominem, because the Bishop's conduct on the sex abuse scandal is not relevant to his opinions on union organizing.

One could make the argument that since the Bishop (and/or the Church as a whole) does not appear to regard "not being sexually abused" as a fundamental human right, their opinion of what IS a f.h.r. might be considered suspect, but the GOP thug didn't try to draw that connection*; he just attacked the Bishop, ignoring what the Bishop was saying. Pure ad hominem.

*Speculation: He didn't try to draw the connection because his intended audience (the aforementioned Fox-watching dumbasses) wouldn't understand it anyway.

#47 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 02:58 PM:

Terry @25

Huh, that's true. I was thinking about it from a different angle, like it's easier to defend calling someone a "thief" than a "car thief": The former can more easily be figurative, or can apply to things that are morally or ethically theft but aren't actually criminal offenses. But you're right, in this particular case it's the other way 'round.

JDM @20
If his facebook postings qualify for legislative immunity, then as foursquare mayor of my local coffee shop I'd like the same consideration. Didn't Gravel v US hold that Senator Gravel's private printing of the Pentagon Papers was not protected by legislative immunity? That suggests that even if he was reposting something he had said in legislative debate (which I suspect is not the case) the second publication is not automatically protected.

#48 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 03:17 PM:

Dave Bell @33:

As far as legislative immunity goes, I can't quite see how a posting on Facebook can be ranked with something said during a debate or a committee hearing.

No, but it can be ranked with a domestic violence incident by the side of a freeway....

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 03:30 PM:

Chris 48: No, but it can be ranked with a domestic violence incident by the side of a freeway...

Not sure what you're referring to here. Did someone beat up their SO and claim (and receive) legislative immunity in the incident? Unpack please.

#50 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 03:52 PM:

Xopher, there's the time in 1994 state Senator John Ford (young Harold's uncle) tried to refuse a speeding ticket on the grounds he was on his way to the capital for a legislative session (he has a long record of citations for excessive speed on I-40 between Memphis and Nashville--and there was the time he reportedly shot at a trucker he claimed was trying to force him off the road). In many states, a legislator traveling to or from a session of the state legislature can claim immunity from arrest, on the grounds that said arrest might be politically motivated.

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 04:17 PM:

Yeah, but domestic violence? It sounded like Chris had a specific incident in mind.

#52 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 04:31 PM:

Xopher @51--yes, it does. I was thinking about whether there might be good legal cause for such a thing*, rather than just "I don't want to mess with X, they're important"

*Overlooking a criminal act, not committing domestic violence on the roadside.

#53 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Xopher @51: I think Chris is referring to this.

#54 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 04:56 PM:

@42, 45: I'm well aware of the systematic problems within the Catholic hierarchy -- I just think that, even had the same problems emerged within an evangelical church, a Republican legislator would be more cautious in dismissing a pastor from that faith. (I don't think that they would actually care about what the pastor was saying -- but I do think that they would pretend to be more respectful when dismissing them.)

#55 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 06:33 PM:

In my opinion, and moving even farther from labor and the systematic attempt by the Republicans to further enrich the fat cats by stealing from the pockets of the working poor, the big problem with the Catholic hierarchy was that so few of them had real-world experience. We're talking about guys--not just one or two of them, all of them-- who went into the seminary as young teens.

If they'd limited the priesthood to former Naval officers and senior enlisted who had spent entirely too much time at Fleet Landing in the middle of the night, a great deal of trouble could have been avoided.

#56 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 07:13 PM:

LMM #54: AIUI, the various evangelical churches don't claim responsibility for, or power over, each others' actions. So when, say, Jimmy Bakker self-combusts, Pat Robertson can walk away with a handful of platitudes, and even tell folks to pray for Jimmy's soul.

#57 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 09:09 PM:

#s 49-51

Federal legislators have immunity from arrest for crimes other than felonies and 'breach of the peace' during sessions and while traveling to and from. I'd be surprised if most states hadn't copied that into their constitutions as well.

This means if a senator steals a candy bar on the way to DC, you have to wait until the session is over to arrest him. It's not immunity from prosecution, just arrest.

#58 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 10:01 PM:

Gray Woodland at # 23: a mysterious bearded sandal-wearing seditionist of Middle Eastern extraction, whose pro-tax ... rantings

There's more than one way to read that story.

#59 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 10:24 PM:

Jim @ 55 - Please excuse me while I try and imagine a clergy full of naval officers and senior noncoms, and the differences that would make.

*shares wildly*

I think that is why so many of the protestant denominations have lower age limits of around 25 for ordination - it means they've at least been exposed to the 'real world', including boys, girls, and drinking/drugs/sex/dancing/other temptations. It means that you don't get people who are so sheltered. That also makes them better pastors.

#60 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2011, 11:05 PM:

Meanwhile, rather than naming the conference rooms at the Maine Labor Department headquarters after disasters, why not name them things like The Forty-Hour Work Week Room, The Pension Room, The Weekend Room, The Paid Vacation Room, The Sick Leave Room, The Paid Overtime Room, and The Time-and-a-Half For Holidays Room?

#61 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 01:20 AM:

Allan Beatty @ 58: He hung around socially with tax-collectors when all right-thinking people shunned them. He was all about collectivizing property in the 'voluntary' setting of the cults he set up - check out the Ananaias Incident for the brutal network of secret informers and enforcers who lurked behind this benign image! - and the regime that sponsored him, behind whose borders he subsequently and conveniently vanished, imposes a 100% entry tax on all worldly goods.

And don't be fooled - where applied, his ideology has had the exact consequences any first-year economy student could predict. The creepily-styled 'Kingdom of Heaven' now has a lower per-capita GNP than Chad or East Timor! This is the kind of guy McCormack pals about with. And we're supposed to take his advice on social and economic 'justice'?

Cheese, no!

#62 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 06:26 AM:

To the tune of Jesse James:

'Bout three or four B.C.
By the Sea of Galilee,
Washed in his unwed mother's tears,
He said "Down with the upper classes!"
And preached Gospel to the masses,
And predated Marx by eighteen hundred years.

Poor Jesus had no wife
To mourn for his life,
He needed a bath and a shave,
But that enemy of the proletariat
Judas Iscariot
Has laid poor Jesus in his grave.

(No, I did not write this one.)

#63 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 06:39 AM:

McCormack cited the Catholic Church’s long-standing teaching that labor organizing is a “fundamental human right”

Is he factually correct on that one? It seems to me that the Catholic church sided with the bosses when they sided with Constantine and found it good. Has that changed some time this millenium?

#64 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 06:40 AM:

Sisuile #59 - at a related tangent, a friend of mine had real difficulty getting to be a Church of Scotland minister precisely because he was applying a year after finishing university. They lean towards older more experienced applicants, and someone from a small Scottish town who was not then married just didn't fit. But he's been one for 7 or 8 years now, doing fine. Except that he is fed up of little old ladies saying it's nice to have a young minister.

#65 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 07:13 AM:

Inge @63

Hmm, I'd always had it that the Church sided with Constantine over Maxentius, not over the workers of Rome. I don't think it's necessarily anti-labor to pick a side when two bosses fight.

That said, the Church has spent a lot of time serving the interests of the powerful. But it's a big organization with a lot of people in it, some of them better than others, and it's involved in a lot of stuff all at once. Sometimes it ends up on the right side, other times not. Did the RCC support Franco in Spain? Yes indeed! Did it also support Lech Walesa in Poland? Also yes!

#67 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 03:19 PM:

In case there's anyone who doesn't have time to read more than a few of those encyclicals, here are couple of cherry-picked quotes from 1981's Laborem Exercens (which I've just read - thanks for the link, Jim.)

From section 21

One method used by unions in pursuing the just rights of their members is the strike or work stoppage, as a kind of ultimatum to the competent bodies, especially the employers. This method is recognized by Catholic social teaching as legitimate in the proper conditions and within just limits. In this connection workers should be assured the right to strike, without being subjected to personal penal sanctions for taking part in a strike

From section 19

Besides wages, various social benefits intended to ensure the life and health of workers and their families play a part here. The expenses involved in health care, especially in the case of accidents at work, demand that medical assistance should be easily available for workers, and that as far as possible it should be cheap or even free of charge. Another sector regarding benefits is the sector associated with the right to rest. In the first place this involves a regular weekly rest comprising at least Sunday, and also a longer period of rest, namely the holiday or vacation taken once a year or possibly in several shorter periods during the year. A third sector concerns the right to a pension and to insurance for old age and in case of accidents at work. Within the sphere of these principal rights, there develops a whole system of particular rights which, together with remuneration for work, determine the correct relationship between worker and employer. Among these rights there should never be overlooked the right to a working environment and to manufacturing processes which are not harmful to the workers' physical health or to their moral integrity.

Shorter John-Paul 2: we recognise rights to strike, to affordable health care, vacations and a safe working environment.

#68 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 05:28 PM:

"McCormack has an open-and-shut case of libel against Bettencourt."

Truth is a defense, and I really doubt McCormack wants to allow Bettencourt to take discovery on whether McCormack is a "pedophile pimp," whatever that is.

The ad hominem point is of course well taken, but McCormack seems pretty scuzzy. It's a complex world. Bad people are on the right side of some issues. Etc.

#69 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 07:35 PM:

Late to the thread and dashing out the door for the evening.

Regarding the Maine Labor mural - I work in that building. It's been... interesting.

(I can't help thinking that at least the artist has gotten some publicity out of the whole affair - and her work has been seen by orders of magnitude more people than would ever have know it existed if Uncle Crankypants [1] hadn't opened his big mouth.)

[1] the politest of euphemisms used in this house for the current occupant of Maine's gubernatorial residence. I can see [2] his house from here.

[2] Well, technically, I can't quite, because of the trees, but I can see the state capitol across the street from it, and I can see the divot in the foliage where the Blaine House is, so, poetically speaking....

#70 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 07:52 PM:

Putting this here, on an active and tangentially-related thread:

Progressive challenger squeaks past conservative incumbent in Wisconsin Supreme Court election.

Given the narrowness of the margin, there will almost certainly be a recount -- but Prosser was predicted as a 20-point shoo-in before the union mess heated up.

#71 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 09:30 PM:

Lee@70: That's a historic win for Klopperberg!

#72 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 10:08 PM:

Anderson: Are you really saying McCormack actively sought out children for priests to victimise? Because that's the way "pedophile pimp" reads to me, and you are saying McCormack is afraid that will come out in a lawsuit.

More to the point, Truth is a defense when one can show, on one's own stick, that it's true. If someone calls me a plagiarist, and I sue them, they have to show the plagiarism with they use to defend themselves with the mantra of truth.

That they find some hidden thing I copied in the past does them no good in court, because the truth has to be something they could point to when someone else asked; without the power of subpoena, "What do you mean he's a plagiarist?"

#73 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2011, 11:19 PM:

Some more of those whacky New Hampshire Republicans:

State Representative Resigns After 2nd Traffic Arrest
Police: Gary Wheaton Caught Driving On A Suspended License

House Rep. Resigns After Not Taking Vote This Session
Rep. Huxley Cites Personal Reasons In Resignation

GOP House member resigns after mental illness remarks

#74 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2011, 02:48 AM:

On the other hand, New Hamster's legislature is really large, something like 400 members with an average of less than 2000 voters per district, so you're much more likely to have actual individuals running as opposed to the prefab machine candidates we get lots of here in California, and the flaky ones don't get weeded out automatically before the election.

#75 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2011, 07:40 AM:

Yes, the New Hampshire House is one of the largest deliberative bodies in the world (and still meeting in their original quarters; some people have suggested that the reason they do such insane things is oxygen starvation). You can, if you want, go to Concord to represent your mom's bridge club.

#76 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2011, 10:01 AM:

"Are you really saying McCormack actively sought out children for priests to victimise?"

Pretty close to that, yeah.

"Paul would keep his secret for nearly 30 years, until he decided to finally confront the Church and launch his own investigation into whether the Archdiocese of Boston had covered up allegations against Birmingham by moving the priest from parish to parish, thereby placing more children in danger."

A periodically replenished supply of young victims. According to Wikipedia, McCormack was the "point person" for Bernard Law re: complaints of sexual misconduct by priests in the Boston archdiocese. This while Geoghan and Shanley were at play with the church's children.

#77 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2011, 04:37 PM:

Anderson: You won't be able to make that stick in a libel trial. The burden is going to be that he was setting specific targets up, with the intent they be abused.

If you can find it, then you have a defense, but the odds of it being 1: true, and 2: provable are infintesimal.

Covering up, is not the same as actively procuring (and as pimping is a specific crime, in which the pimp gets a direct recompense, the charge, as made, is even harder to prove).

Yes, it certainly looks as though McCormack is culpable in allowing abuse to continue, but that's not the same as pimping.

#78 ::: wrw ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2011, 01:31 AM:

@70, 71: We'll see. An entire city's worth of votes were either uncounted the first time or double-counted, depending on the level of malice/stupidity of the Waukesha county clerk; those votes are +7500ish for Prosser (net) in what was a 200-vote election. This conveniently also pushes the election from close enough for a state paid recount to a $5/ward fee for a recount.

I am too tired to link-dump right now, but every time I think that you couldn't make up a more obvious fraud scenario, some new detail comes out to provide more motive, means, or opportunity. Whether there is skullduggery going on or not, one must get up very early in the morning to appear this thoroughly corrupt.

None of this is to minimize the work that folks in Wisconsin did to get things this close. Judicial incumbents in WI don't lose (4x in the state's history). Underfunded challengers--for any office--don't make up 10-point gaps in 6 weeks. (Assuming, of course, that de facto the primary vote was 55% Prosser, 45% Not Prosser, and that the votes for the challengers would have fallen in line with Kloppenburg. If you assume 55% Prosser/25% Kloppenburg as the baseline with 20% undecided, that's instead winning those undecideds and then making up a 10-point gap.) But at the moment the effort appears to have come up short, nonetheless.

I must give a hat tip to Illusory Tenant, who has been covering this race and its aftermath with far more legal chops than I possess (and is also a WI local).

#79 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2011, 01:32 AM:

...aaand the fix is in.

An extra 7,500 votes for Prosser magically appeared in a county where the County Court Clerk has worked closely with Prosser in the past, after said clerk had already released the verified totals.

#80 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2011, 01:33 AM:

...aaand the fix is in.

An extra 7,500 votes for Prosser magically appeared in a county where the County Court Clerk has worked closely with Prosser in the past, after said clerk had already released the verified totals.

#81 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2011, 01:49 AM:

Oops, sorry for the double-post -- it hung up, and then didn't show having gone thru.

In further news, the clerk's explanation doesn't hold water. And funny how the missing votes turned out to be JUST enough to push the election over the free-recount mark.

#82 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2011, 10:02 AM:

"Anderson: You won't be able to make that stick in a libel trial. The burden is going to be that he was setting specific targets up, with the intent they be abused."

You are imagining that the jury would be required to find a very specific definition of "pimp" and that it would have to reject any metaphorical meaning to the term. Leaving aside, as noted above, that the bishop is a public figure and thus proof of libel would have to meet the very high bar of NY Times v. Sullivan.

I would take the defense side of that libel suit any day.

... Thanks for the links, Lee. I was wondering about those conveeeeeeenient votes.

#83 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2011, 01:40 PM:

Anderson: Times v. Sullivan is a moderately high bar, and probably is enough; but only because the speaker is a politician, and he can try to claim it was rhetorical excess.

But the charge is more specific than that, and the question is going to turn on the charge the jury gets.

Juries are, amazingly; when one thinks of what they are asked to do, really good at holding to the law (e.g. the OJ Simpson trial), and properly charged, the odds are they will look at the questions of malice, known falsehood, and the question of just what was said.

Which makes it a crap shoot, not a slam dunk defense.

#84 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2011, 02:05 PM:

Anderson: I see, as I look at this, where we are in nonagreement.

The difficulty comes in, not from the use of the word, but your assertion he could use truth as a defense. That's an affirmative defense, not a Times v Sullivan defense, and you have equivocated the two.

If one argues the truth of McCormack having been a pimp, the entire case hinges on the definition you say the jury wouldn't be required to find. In that case the mostly certainly would.

In a Times v Sullivan defense they wouldn't.

#85 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2011, 06:24 PM:

Lee@81: Oops, sorry for the double-post -- it hung up, and then didn't show having gone thru.

Funny, that's just what happened to the elections clerk as well...

#86 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2011, 05:28 PM:

"If one argues the truth of McCormack having been a pimp, the entire case hinges on the definition you say the jury wouldn't be required to find. In that case the mostly certainly would."

Well, we can agree to disagree. "Pimp" can be defined broadly enough to include a panderer (see Am. Heritage Coll. Dict.), and one who sets up a pedophile in a situation that facilitates his preying upon youths is arguably a "pimp" in that broader sense.

As I said, I'd defend that defamation suit in a minute. Let a jury hear about McCormack's aid in sheltering pedophile priests, and I don't see it splitting any hairs on the finer definitional aspects of "pimp."

Regardless, thanks for the discussion!

#87 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2011, 06:51 PM:

If you spend your time arguing whether or not McCormack was a pimp, the Republicans have won.

They're trying to distract you from the clear fact that their budget would harm the old, the poor, and the sick, in order to provide aid, comfort, and a fat payday for the rich and comfortable.

#88 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2011, 05:26 PM:

Meanwhile, still in New Hampshire, a Republican state senator (Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry) got email and a voice phone call yesterday from the Newmarket Republican Town Committee Chairman (Joe Barton) that was sufficiently threatening that she called the cops.

The cause of the anger? Carson doesn't support a state Right-to-Work law.

Details here.

#89 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2011, 05:51 PM:

I think it's hilarious that the Union Leader (which is neither) printed a picture of Joe Barton in full kilt and playing the bagpipe.

While *I* certainly don't think people who dress in Scots regalia and play the bagpipe are crazy, it's pretty clear that the UL is trying to make him look bonkers.

#90 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2011, 06:44 PM:

Xopher @89:

I think there might be a dogwhistle there.

I recall reading, a number of years back, a very baffled interview of David Duke by a reporter for one of the Scottish broadsheets (my Google-fu is failing me here, but it might have been the Scotsman.). She requested an appointment without much expectation of a story, and found herself the rather surprised auditor of a lengthy and very openly racist discussion.

Later in the article, she said she'd looked into things further, and discovered that in certain American circles, "Scottish" was code for "white supremacist". She was unsurprisingly horrified by this.

I do not know, of course, if this is the meaning behind the Union Leader's choice of photo. But, having acquired this titbit of information, I cannot help but wonder.

#91 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2011, 06:49 PM:

I continue to be appalled about the complete inversion of the phrase "right-to-work" in this context, where what it means is that one's employer has the right to fire you at any time, for any reason or none at all, and the employee has no recourse. It's downright Orwellian.

#92 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2011, 07:14 PM:

Lee @91 - You said it. I like the AFL-CIO's name for such laws: "Right to Work for Less" (where less includes rights as well as money).

#93 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:56 AM:

A somewhat older friend of mine grew up Irish in New York City, and many of his family were union members in the various construction trades. You couldn't get a job if you weren't a union member, and you couldn't usually become a member of the union local if you weren't related to a member. There weren't any black people in the union, though as he said "it wasn't racism, it was just nepotism", Irishmen and Italians didn't tend to have black cousins and nephews so blacks didn't get to join. It was Closed Shop, not Open Shop, and you didn't have a right to work.

I grew up near Philadelphia in the years when labor conflicts in the construction trades were in the news, with non-union workers getting beaten up, buildings burned down, and occasionally people getting shot. And then there were the groups of union hard-hats beating up anti-Vietnam-war protestors.

So yeah, unions have brought us things like the 40-hour week and safer working conditions and decent wages, and the coal mine strikes are famous for violence done by the management with government help, but it's nothing like one-sided. It took me a long time to be willing to consider unions as anything but organized violence and greed. The last couple of decades, my dealings with them have been much more positive - they've done a lot of good work training construction workers and technicians I've dealt with, and on making sure that when corporate management wants to treat workers like disposable commodities that they can't just do that.

#94 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:13 PM:

@93: The issue here is balance. If the Republicans wanted to abolish corporations at the same time as they abolished unions, maybe. But unions are essentially the only standing left-leaning organizations out there.

The Republicans are picking groups off, one by one. And the Democrats roll over and give them what they want, because they don't realize that this is the endgame.

#95 ::: David Harmon sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 06:32 AM:

They're barely trying...

#96 ::: Cadbury Moose sees more linkspam ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2012, 07:33 AM:

Post #97 as well, maybe the boilerplate is a good gnome target?

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