Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

  • Just A Quick Thought

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:09 am, April 21st 2010     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Read this article:

    A watchdog group objected Tuesday to an evangelist’s invitation to speak at the Pentagon next month, saying his past description of Islam as “evil” offended Muslims who work for the Department of Defense and the appearance should be canceled.

    And consider the comments from our last post.  Unless we can find better ways to talk about each other in public – our participation in public discourse will have to be limited.  Blanket condemnations, declarations, and stereotyping just will not get the job done.

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    Greeting From Bed!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 12:30 pm, April 19th 2010     &mdash      6 Comments »

    So, While I Was Away…

    Not that much happened really, and I am not completely back either, but ain’t technology grand.  I can blog from my recovery bed and since this is not a paying gig, I can risk incoherency.  But there was some interesting discussion.

    “First Things” broke out all over about whether Mormons are Christians or not.  I know I will be accused of saying this just becasue I like Romney for POTUS, but that is a huge distraction of a discussion from a web site/series of blogs dedicated to Christian engagement with culture.  Precisely how does the question affect culture – it deeply affects religious truth, but stopping abortion is stopping abortion.  Although, this does matter, people should at least be allowed the honored of being quoted properly and names as they wish to be named,

    Joe Carter opines that Evangelicals are like a “herd of Unicorns.“  I am going to agree with Joe to an extent here.  Frankly, I blame Evangelicalism.  Says Carter:

    Forty years later, we evangelicals still haven’t caught up on issues of the sanctity of life. Come to the annual March for Life held in Washington, D.C. every January and you’ll find fifty Catholics for every evangelical. For Catholics it is a moral, spiritual, and political issue. For evangelicals it nothing more than an emotional issue that we aren’t really dedicated to doing much about.

    That, in a nutshell, describes the difference between Catholic and Evangelical approaches to most everything.  But one important thing to note – it makes Evangelicals persuadable and swing voters.  Think about it.

    Candidate News…

    Pawlenty in the Huckabee role?  Not happening – I actually like Pawlenty a lot better than I like Huckabee, but it takes real charisma to pull that off and Tim is a little low in that department.

    Speaking of Huckabee, seems he has been spinning a little hard lately.  Here it is from Taegen Goddard and from the AJC.  Wish I could say I was surprised.

    I don’t get this.  EFM are our friends, I have asked many of my friends to vote for Romney.  I know people close to Romney, heck I even know Romney.  What’s wrong here?  Or is writing with conspiratorial overtones all that matters anymore?

    Religion News…

    Yes, as religious people we are under attack.  some of it is silly, and some of it is heinous.   The latter matters – a lot.

    This is a sober approach to a real problem.  We all have problems, it is best to face them straightforwardly.

    OK, back to recovery.

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    Comments and Cynicism…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:01 am, April 14th 2010     &mdash      4 Comments »

    As we have discussed all week, comment policies matter.  Today we are confronted with a similar situation on the Newsweek/Washington Post “On Faith” feature.  As with Politico, they apparently screen comment for profanity, but beyond that everything seems to be fair game unless a reader “complains.”  So when Susan Jacoby was wondering why people pay attention to Glenn Beck, it drew some interesting comment.  I have used the report offense system, so this will likely be gone by the time you follow the link, so once again I find myself compelled to reprint it for the sake of documenting its existence:

    Well, I learned one thing from this week’s exchange of opinion: Glenn Beck is a Mormon.

    So, a lot of disjointed pieces have fallen into place. Clearly, Beck has been bankrolled by the LDS church and positioned to do maximum damage to legitimate presidential candidates in 2012 so that Mitt Romney can roll into Washington as our next president.

    Ok, I’ll concede that that sounds awfully like conspiracy theory — a mode of thinking that I don’t generally indulge in.

    However, since we know that the Mormon hierarchy happily pours unlimited millions into any cause they want to dominate, perhaps it’s not so far-fetched to consider that they may have tapped Convert Beck to start laying groundwork for the “new and improved” Romney campaign.

    After all, Mormons do a great deal of advance planning and have excellent organizing skills. You don’t defeat ballot initiatives like gay marriage in California without media-savvy operatives, and the Mormons seem to have those in quantity.

    It appears that Glenn Beck is the Mormons’ latest — and most divisive — mouthpiece for the bigotry and intolerance that characterize so much of their culture and theology.

    We predicted a Beck/Romney link at some point, but I certainly never expected anything that made SO little sense.  Which truly makes me wonder why it would make it up at a site like this.  It is clearly ranting without concern for reason.  Such would never make a letter to the editor column so why make it into comments?

    Then it dawned on me, and this is terribly cynical on my part – comment complaint systems drive traffic.  That’s right.  If we have to visit a site to read comments to “police” them, the site gets more hits which translates to higher advertising rates.  Think about it – we have been asking all our readers to visit sites specifically to look for comments like this.  Sites that otherwise you might rely on us to simply tell you about.  So instead of getting one hit from Lowell or I and a few “link throughs” they may get a dozen hits as all of you try to help with this effort.

    Am I being cynical?  Or do you think this might be what drives the non-responsiveness when I complain about comments like this making it up?  Or is bigotry free speech and cannot be moderated?  Such is certainly not the case when it comes to racial reference.  In light of this thought, should we be “policing” comments?

    Let us know what you think in the comments here – or on Facebook.

    Admin note: I, John, will be disappearing for a few days to undergo some medical procedures.  You’ll be in Lowell’s capable hands until next week sometime.

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    Politico Does Not Appear To Care.

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:38 am, April 13th 2010     &mdash      2 Comments »

    In our last post, we pointed out very anti-Mormon comments on Politico.  We asked our readers to work hard to help police Politco comments.  Their system allows, apparently, anything up only to remove it if someone expresses dismay.  We also urged our readers to write Politco about their comment policy generally.  I did so.  I sent the following email to Ben Smith, on whose blog the grossly offending comment appeared:

    Mr. Smith:

    As one of the two writers of Article VI Blog (http://www.article6blog.com) of which I think you are passingly familiar – I know your colleague Jonathon Martin is as we have met him a couple of times – I find the comments that end up on your posts concerning Mitt Romney deeply offensive.

    Your latest concerning the SRLC straw poll results featured a comment (I have already used the report abuse system on it) implying that Mormons engaged routinely in pedophilia and claiming to be left by Jesus Himself.

    Now, I am not a Mormon – I am a Presbyterian.  Set aside for the minute that most Mormons are very decent people, if in my opinion theologically wrong, and concentrate on the invocation of the name of Jesus Christ as a commenter on your blog.  Any Christian of any stripe considers that blasphemy and is deeply offended.

    There are other less offensive but equally bigoted comments on that post as well.  We are asking our readers to routinely monitor Politico and especially your blog for such comments and to use the report abuse system as necessary.

    My reason for writing to you is to ask why it is necessary for our readers to do so?  Would you allow comments that referenced the “n-word?”  Politco seems to be a site that prides itself on sane political reporting and generally does so, so why would it tolerate such hateful and vile content in the comments that appear?

    As a blog writer myself, I understand the burden that comment moderation places on a writer – it is time consuming and often irritating, not to mention the potential legal complications that can result. Regardless there are limits to what can be tolerated even by the most liberal of comment policies (BTW, I could not find such a policy posted anywhere on the Politico site?)

    I write to you to implore you to not allow such ugly, vile and heinous comments to appear on your blog – AT ALL.  Our readers acting as comment police is insufficient as these clearly bigoted insults will appear on your site for some period of time before we can get to them, and you can respond to the reports of abuse.  Do you really want the Politico brand to be tarnished by such filth?  Even for a short period of time?

    I find Politco and you to be better than that generally, but as I have watched this pattern for several months now, my opinion is lowering considerably. These comments are beneath the preeminent political reporting organ in our nation.  If they came in the form of a letter I am quite certain they would find the round file.  Why should it be any different electronically?

    John Schroeder

    I received the following in response:

    If they haven’t been removed yet it’s just because of thin weekend staffing. Thanks for flagging

    That’s it – that’s all.  Such lack of responsiveness indicates that he either did not read my entire email or simply does not care about how terribly the appearance of such comments, even for a short period of time, harms their reputation.  They obviously have limits of some sort as profanity is not noted, nor are racially based epithets of various sorts.

    We need to make them care.  I urge everyone to write them – and ask your friends to do so.  Emails from Lowell and I are not going to cut it – they need to hear from a lot of people.  They need to moderate comments, not wait for complaints.

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    Romney Wins By The First Measure…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:45 am, April 12th 2010     &mdash      1 Comment »

    The Southern Republican Leadership Conference was held in New Orleans this past weekend and as most such conferences – it conducted a presidential straw poll.  Mitt Romney won that poll by one vote over — Ron Paul.  There are a number of interesting comments coming out of the thing.

    Our friends at EFM attended and campaigned for Romney with the attendees.  Their report on the result quotes Carl Cameron:

    As Carl Cameron said to start his report: Mitt Romney won the straw poll and wasn’t even here.

    Which is true, and very interesting.  Ed Morrisey pointed out some other interesting facts:

    Update: It’s been pointed out in the media filing center that both Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee spent some money to campaign here.  Huckabee has a booth in the exhibitor hall; Palin’s team put out caribou beef jerky with a plug for Palin attached in the main ballroom on Friday.  Romney also made a big push with piggy banks and advertising boards.  For Huckabee, the outcome has to be a big disappointment.

    Update II: It’s also worth pointing out that Romney didn’t speak at the SRLC, citing a conflict with his book tour, while Palin, Paul, Gingrich all made appearances.  Huckabee didn’t speak at this event, although he did have a booth here.

    It should be pointed out; however, that the “Romney booth” was our friends at EFM (who got some coverage from CBS) – not a campaign thing, just some supporters doing their own thing.  Huckabee’s numbers were so low that “big disappointment” is a bit of an understatement.  D.B. Grady at The Atlantic also had a very interesting point:

    In the end, Romneycare was not an issue delegates at the conference worried about.

    That’s important as Lowell and I spent the weekend discussing how we think Romney needs to “message” health care because we have been worried about it based on Rich Lowry’s comments from last week.  While the differences between the system in Massachusetts and what Obama just force fed us are significant, they are wonkish and hard to communicate.  But then Lowell and I are pretty wonkish ourselves and therefore prone to over thinking things.

    EFM’s David French, quoted in the Atlantic post, thinks Massachusetts health care is not an issue because Romney balanced the state budget before taking it on.  I think it has more to do with how the plan was enacted on a broader canvas.  The Massachusetts plan was done in accordance with the apparent will of the citizens of the state.  There were no protests or Tea Parties, statehouse switchboards were not flooded and there were no special elections where the electorate’s will was made plainly obvious.  In other words, Romney acted like a statesman, unlike Obama and his congressional cohorts who acted like a political thugs.

    But the most interesting comments came in the comments on Ben Smith of Politico’s post on the results.  As seems to be typical of Politico, the comments are virulently anti-Mormon when Romney is discussed.  The worst from this post I hesitate to repeat, its an old awful joke that everyone has heard, but it is vile and likely to disappear as I used the abuse reporting system concerning it.  Therefore, I repeat it here in the interest of preserving it for the record:

    you know what the Mormons say about women Brigham Young

    Not to mention, the name given by the person that left this little gem of a comment is “Jesus.”  We have asked our readers before to police comments and I find we must do so again, especially at Politico where this is becoming a pattern.  There is more there, please check it out and use the report abuse system they have.  We have asked our readers before to police comments at very high profile sites like Politico – see our Online Activism page.  We repeat this call.

    Sites like Politico cannot be allowed to have this kind of trash in their comments.  Lowell and I cannot possibly keep up with all of it.  There is little we can do about “Huck’s Army” and dedicated anti-Mormon web sites, but that’s not Politico.   It is apparently Politco’s policy that they do not police comments, they leave it up to their readers, so we need your help in doing what Politco seems unwilling to do.  They also have a bulletin board for discussion that we have not even begun to look through.  If this stuff ends up on blog post comments, I can only imagine what might be in there.

    A search through the site could find no comment policy statement of any sort.  We recommend that our readers not only actively review comments on the site, but write to Politico and urge them to formulate, post, and enforce a policy regarding derisive and bigoted comments.  I cannot imagine “n-word” jokes would survive there, even without reader input, but then you never know.

    It is; however, nice to know that some people are learning.  This article about a congressional race in Mississippi has this to say about one of the candidates:

    Tegerdine is Mormon, a growing and very conservative element in the Republican Party that garnered greater acceptance by evangelical GOPers following the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. A number of Mississippi Republican leaders embraced Romney including then Rankin County Republican Party Chairman – now Third District Congressman – Gregg Harper.

    And before we leave Romney altogether, what do you think of the comments on this Chris Cilizza post?  Romney for RNC chair?  What a waste of talent!  Even if he was not considering a presidential run, there are a lot better ways to put his talent to work than that.

    Mormon Reporting and Problems With Associations

    Get Religion reports on some reporting concerning the opening of a Mormon Temple in British Columbia.  They report, quite accurately, that the story seems more interested in stirring up Mormon controversy than it does in simply reporting on the opening of the Temple.  I really wish the press would get over this.

    But they show no tendencies, which is why the Republican convention in SLC would be a loser if Romney is the nominee.   “reporting” would be rife with conspiracy speculation should that come to pass.  We just don’t need the association.

    Talking about associations we do not need leads invariably to Glenn Beck.  The Daily Kos pointed out last week that Beck is associating Romney with socialism.  Beck need s a new schtick.

    All while there are reminders of bigger fish to fry.

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    Media Bias Raises Its Head – Gee, There is a Surprise

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:38 am, April 7th 2010     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Between “The Way to Win” and “Game Change,” Mark Halperin is clearly trying to distinguish himself as the journalistic guru of presidential elections.  However, between the utter disdain for any form of alternative and new media he expresses in “The Way to Win” and his fawning over Obama in “Game Change” he is proving primarily to be little more than the typical MSM, left-leaning dinosaur.  “Game Change” is particularly egregious in its utter lack of self-examination.  While he acknowledges the general perception of just about everyone that the MSM were in the tank for Obama, he fails to examine the claim at all!  You would think that someone so firmly planted in the center of the MSM as an editor of Time would at least bother to get a little defensive in a book like that.  And yet, despite his description of new media as a “freak show” in TWTW, he completely fails to discuss the incredibly freakish behavior of the MSM, even by MSM standards, other than quoting his sources inside the various campaigns.

    Regardless, he is plowing ahead as if when it comes to presidential elections, he is “The Voice” – of what I have no idea, but he just writes that way.  So, when he published in Time this week a look ahead at 2012, people listened.  The piece in question is an obvious attempt to revitalize Obama’s rapidly fading political fortunes by painting the entire list of Republican possibles as somehow unelectable, and grossly disorganized.  He focuses most of his attention on Romney and Pawlenty, as is fitting since they are the only two seriously at work right now.  His analysis of Pawlenty is so brief as to be almost nonexistent.  It is actually Romney that is the target of his “wisdom.”  Before we get to religion, let’s address this comment:

    But his liabilities are equally formidable. . . . and, perhaps as grave — no kidding — his striking nonchalance about transporting the family dog in a box tied to the roof of his car en route to a family vacation.

    Look, I follow this stuff pretty closely and I have not heard anyone in serious political circles bring that story up since 2007.   I am sure the loony left of the animal rights movement have not let go of it, but how many of those people are there?  Ten . . . twelve?  Come on, Halperin, if you want to dredge up old worn out stuff to help your candidate, you’re going to have to do better than that.  And yet, the most left newspaper in all of Great Britain thought enough of it to not only pass it on, but embellish it a bit:

    Meanwhile, this business with his dog in a box on the roof of the car as the family took a driving vacation/motoring holiday seems to be mushrooming into for Romney what the haircuts were for John Edwards. I would think Republicans would like it. He shows he’s pro-torture.

    That’s echo chamber stuff if I ever heard it – and I hate to break it to these guys, most Americans do not live in the chamber.

    I did that in part to set up the real discussion which is Halperin’s invocation of the Mormon issue:

    Romney has the stronger hand but some real problems. He retains almost all the strengths he brought to the battle two years ago, when he was the runner-up to McCain: a record of accomplishment in business and government; a stately mien (and famously great hair); a solid and photogenic family; a New England base, anchored by a vacation home in primary-powered New Hampshire; and vast personal wealth and fundraiser prowess. But his liabilities are equally formidable. Some are the public’s long-standing bigotry against his Mormon faith. . . .

    Romney has new challenges too. For one, he hasn’t demonstrated that he has learned some key lessons from 2008, and he still seems unable to talk openly and with passion about his faith or political convictions.

    This too was echoed elsewhere, this time in an oddsmaker’s take on the field:

    The ugly truth of the Southern Baptist-dominated Christian Right in the US is that while it shares so much political ideology with the faithful of the Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), the bigotry against their religious cousins (See: The American Religion: The Emergence of The Post-Christian Nation, by Harold Bloom, 1993, Simon & Schuster) is far too steep a barrier for Romney to survive politically.

    Were these efforts not so transparent they would be dangerous.  What we can take away from this primarily is that with Obama clearly fading in the polls, the left is trying desperately to tilt him up by taking negative shots at the presumptive Republican nominee.   But they have little ammunition to do so with, so they repeat, without a hint of variance, the line of argument that they think worked last time.  Please note, both accounts take shots at the traditionally Christian right that are much harder than the shots they take at Romney.  According to these guys, I wear a hood and burn crosses in my spare time.

    What they fail to realize is the incredible animosity that such attacks generate and the ever building opposition that Obama is generating as he treats the American people as if they are too dumb to know what is good for them. Yes, Romney has a religion issue, but it is fading into the woodwork pretty rapidly as people just get angrier and angrier at the current occupant of the White House.  If Obama keeps going like this “anybody-but-Obama” will trump “anybody-but-a-Mormon” going away.

    Halperin’s piece is about matching up against Obama, not the primaries.  He acts as if the religion issue will be as active in the general as it was in the ’08 primaries.  Heck, it’s not going to play as hard in the primaries as it did last time unless Huckabee or some other foolish stand-in wants to shoot themselves in the foot very publicly.  And even then it will be more sound and fury than political reality.  Most Republicans, even those of us heavily motivated by our religious convictions, can do enough political math to understand that we divided ourselves last time and that’s why we lost.  That mistake will be too fresh in everyone’s mind to be repeated this time.  We are not THAT stupid.

    Bottom line is this – Romney has some challenges ahead of him, any aspirant to office does.  And they are right in the areas where some of them will be, including religion, but this stuff is so overstated and so fawning over Obama as to be almost parody.  Obama will not be “easy pickin’s” in ’12, but the bar is lowering quite a bit from ’08, and if the MSM continues to sound like they did in ’08 they will ride the bar into bankruptcy – at least those that are not already there.

    Lowell adds . . .

    It seems that Mark Halperin wants to be the next Theodore White.  We’ll see if he succeeds, but I am skeptical.  (I mean, the dog on the car roof story?  Really?)

    And by the way, let’s keep in mind that the “oddsmaker” who wrote about Romney’s membership in “The Church of the Latter-day Saints” (always suspect a would-be pundit who can’t get right the name of the church he’s writing about) is a man named Al Giordano.  Mr. Giordano is the publisher of The Narco News Bulletin, “Reporting on Democracy and The Drug War from All America.” (Hint:  He’s not in favor of the drug war.)  Now, I don’t know Mr. Giordano but when it comes to evaluating Republican candidates I think he has a credibility problem.  This is a pundit who calls Sara Palin and Mike Huckabee “the crazies.”  Now, there are many grounds on which to criticize Palin and Huck, but that they are crazy is not one of them.

    The fact is, at this point Romney is the front-runner and no one has the money, the organization, and the rapidly-increasing pile of political chits that the Governor has.  The political battlefields have been littered over the years with the bones of early front-runners, but Halperin has got to come up with some substance before anyone pays much attention to his rather vapid thoughts, recycled from 2007-08.

    And with that, I am out of here!

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