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February 13, 2007

Edwards' netroots coordinator Melissa McEwan resigns

John Edwards' netroots coordinator, Melissa McEwan has tendered her resignation. It should be noted that threats from certain self-proclaimed Christians figured prominently in her decision to leave her job as a part-time web consultant.

I'm reposting Melissa's announcement in full because I'm afraid that her blog, Shakespeare's Sister, may be hit by the same malicious denial of service attacks that have been plaguing Amanda Marcotte's Pandagon all day. It's ironic that women who speak out against patriarchal and misogynist threads in organized religion get pummeled with graphic rape threats...

Melissa writes:

I regret to say that I have also resigned from the Edwards campaign. In spite of what was widely reported, I was not hired as a blogger, but a part-time technical advisor, which is the role I am vacating.

I would like to make very clear that the campaign did not push me out, nor was my resignation the back-end of some arrangement made last week. This was a decision I made, with the campaign's reluctant support, because my remaining the focus of sustained ideological attacks was inevitably making me a liability to the campaign, and making me increasingly uncomfortable with my and my family's level of exposure.

I understand that there will be progressive bloggers who feel I am making the wrong decision, and I offer my sincerest apologies to them. One of the hardest parts of this decision was feeling as though I'm letting down my peers, who have been so supportive.

There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats. It is not right-wing bloggers, nor people like Bill Donohue or Bill O'Reilly, who prompted nor deserve credit for my resignation, no matter how much they want it, but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation.

This is a win for no one.

My sources in the Edwards camp confirm that neither blogger was fired.

I predict that the biggest loser in all this will be Bill Donohue's Catholic League. In the process of hounding a couple of bloggers, the so-called civil rights organization may have jeopardized its vital 501(c)(3) status. As a tax-exempt organization, the CL is forbidden by law from interfering with political campaigns.

Our taxes should not be subsidizing lobbying by religious extremists.

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Comments

Our taxes should not be subsidizing lobbying by religious extremists.

You could improve that sentence by putting a period after "lobbying."

There is a difference between exempting an entity from taxes and subsidizing that entity with our taxes. There are plenty of (legitimately) tax exempt organizations that I wouldn't want subsidized.

"I predict that the biggest loser in all this will be Bill Donohue's Catholic League."

I agree, but I think the Edwards' campaign will also lose big from this. They've demonstrated that they don't know how to push back when attacked by the likes of Donohue.

I think the ideal response would have been to let Amanda and Melissa manage the response, since that was their job, and they are good at it. (The Edwards' campaign could, if they were feeling insecure, talk with Amanda about the right tone to take, but from what I read of what she posted on the Edwards weblog, she already had hit upon a good tone for the campaign.)

That's the question, though, parse. Is the Catholic League legitimately tax-exempt? That is, do they play by the rules? One reason we have strict rules about non-profits engaging in political activity is because we as a society don't believe that we should be subsidizing lobbying.

Lobbying's a legitimate business in a free society. However, other lobbying firms pay taxes on their income if they turn a profit.

If you get away without paying the taxes you owe, then the commonweal is effectively subsidizing you. Every dollar you don't pay is one more dollar to spend on whatever you do, or one less dollar you have to borrow. It's also one more dollar that we taxpayers have to borrow, forgo in public spending, or charge to someone else. I don't know if any donations to the Catholic League are tax deductible, but if so, that's a whole 'nother level of subsidy.

Now, I'm not an attorney or an accountant, so I can't say for sure whether the CL has overstepped the bounds of their non-profit status. If they have, then the public is subsidizing their lobbying efforts.

Moreover, as a recipient of charitable donations under a tax system in which charitable donations are at least partially deductable, they really are being subsidized.

I don't agree, Lindsay. A subsidy is a payment. Failing to make a collection is not the same as making a payment. I supposed you could say I'm splitting hairs, but I think a certain precision in the use of language is useful. I think it's useful to reserve "subsidizing" to groups the government is actually giving money to.

You can say that there is less money available than would be the case if the entity in question were paying taxes, but that would also be the case for legitimate tax-exempt organizations. But I don't think most people would say that all those organizations are subsidized, or that the government subsidizes parents who raise children, because there would be more tax money available if they didn't grant deductions for children.

I think subsidy is a fair way to describe an organization that receives protections that most of could only dream of: unlimited life, limited liability for its CEO and total immunity from taxation to cover the costs of services its enjoys.

When the beat cop walks in front of their Midtown building and they pay not a dime for that benefit, that's a subsidy. When they buy goods and don't pay sales tax on them, but receive the direct and indirect benefits of an expensive transit system for which others pay very substantial taxes, that's a subsidy. When they receive income and neither they nor their donor must pay income tax on those sums when others similarly situated pay income tax twice to cover the costs of fire and EMT assistance, that's a subsidy.

The taxpayers are subsidizing this organization with services while shield them with the crown of their goodwill and generosity through blanket immunity from very substantial taxes. Organizations that fight discrimination and prejudice generally are 501(c)(3) legit for federal and generally state tax purposes, but politics and most lobbying are out.

Had the Catholic League criticized the bloggers' comments without organizing against a declared political campaign committee's staffing choices, they would have been a lot safer.

This is sad.

First off, neither one of them should have been pressured to resign, but especially so in Shakespeare's Sister's case.
I mean, Amanda of Pandagon tries to be edgy and stuff, and succeeds with a nice blend of irony and sarcasm. I find Shakespeare's Sister's bit to be kind of like flan without the carmel topping. At most she flaunts words like 'bitchez', and calls herself 'the cunt', at least in her comments section, both of which come off as being stale and false.

I mean, how controversial can a person be who talks about having her arm broken by the family cat knocking something over on her when she was a kid, and says, in reference to it, "Me-Oww"?

This is sad.

First off, neither one of them should have been pressured to resign, but especially so in Shakespeare's Sister's case.
I mean, Amanda of Pandagon tries to be edgy and stuff, and succeeds with a nice blend of irony and sarcasm. I find Shakespeare's Sister's bit to be kind of like flan without the carmel topping. At most she flaunts words like 'bitchez', and calls herself 'the cunt', at least in her comments section, both of which come off as being stale and false.

I mean, how controversial can a person be who talks about having her arm broken by the family cat knocking something over on her when she was a kid, and says, in reference to it, "Me-Oww"?

I predict that the biggest loser in all this will be Bill Donohue's Catholic League. In the process of hounding a couple of bloggers, the so-called civil rights organization may have jeopardized its vital 501(c)(3) status.

Don't squash dissent, tax it! I like that.

In fact, I encourage Dems to aggressively go after Catholic organizations on this point.

And do check to see how many black ministers support this crackdown.

Losers: Donohue, Edwards
Winners: Malkin, Obama

I have my complaint to the IRS ready to mail today. I certainly hope they lift this idiot's tax exemption!

On the topic of 503e's and the Catholic League...

The League posted the following "news release" on it's web site. I wonder if we ought to be doing some screen saves or recording the specific actions the league took in trying to get campaign staffers fired. (ie - interfering in a campaign.) Can 503e's DO this? I didn't think it was legal under their current tax status.

"February 13, 2007

EDWARDS NEEDS TO CAN McEWAN

Catholic League president Bill Donohue called on John Edwards to fire Melissa McEwan today:

“It is not enough that one foul-mouthed anti-Christian bigot, Amanda Marcotte, has quit. Melissa McEwan must go as well. Either Edwards shows her the door or she bolts on her own. There is no third choice—the Catholic League will see to it that this issue won’t go away.

“The Edwards campaign is in total disarray and the meltdown will continue unless McEwan is removed from his staff. The fact that Marcotte had to quit suggests that Edwards doesn’t have the guts to do what is morally right. He has one more chance—fire McEwan now.”

The Catholic League is the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. It defends individual Catholics and the institutional Church from defamation and discrimination."

This release is still posted on their website:
http://www.catholicleague.org/07press_releases/quarter_1/070213_can_mcewan.htm

It was a swiftboating that should have not been. Donohue is a complete sham. The man is a bigot through and through disguised as the leader of some small group that does not represent Catholics, it represents bigots that happen to be Catholic. Sad she decided to resign, but I am sure she knows best. If her site like the other is attacked and made to do anything that does not esemble freedom of choice these people should be stopped. I am amazed that Donohue has been given airtime... I think this country is oozing of sickness with its taste for bigoted speech and its Springeresque mentality.

ODE to DONOHUE

Your breath is atrocious
Crowding the air.
Your teeth, fanged relics,
Slanted, bent of intolerance.
And your proud mind
Fetches the face of wretchedness
With its leaching maw of foaming hatred…

After hearing you,
The first time,
I found my contempt unmasked;
You’re repugnant and false-hearted,
And most contemptible
For using your depraved dribble
To spackle the holes you’ve put in God...


Lindsay,

Since you are a philosopher, consider this.

I said that both Amanda and Melissa would quit as soon as I heard that Edwards had admitted to being offended by some of their posts.

But the proper response was to simply say, Amanda made a joke; everyone who has never told a dirty joke please step forward, not you, Donoho, and presumably not you John Edwards.

Taking the controversial posts as jokes removes them from the realm of "writing", in which you are supposed to set things in stone.

But this requires defining blogging as something closer to speech than writing. Blogging is momentary, "hot" in the McLuhan sense, and impermanent, in the sense that I have never yet seen a blogger publish a book of old posts.

Everyone has SAID offensive things. If we're talking about jokes, then the more offensive the better. For example, there are many jokes that involve Jesus having sex or even God. The whole principle of 20th century American Jewish comedy, correct me if I'm wrong, is equal opportunity insult. "You Christians, you like a joke about the Jews. Here's a joke about the Christians" and so on down the list.

Even more, in purely religious terms, it is impossible to insult God, Jesus, or the (spiritual) church (which is part of Jesus). These are not ordinary persons who can be harmed by insult. It is really not part of Christianity to rally to the defense of God - only part of the sad history of pogroms and persecution that has followed Christianity.

Amanda and Melissa could have fought through with the full support of the campaign. Despite the word from your sources, given that credibility is essential to someone like Amanda, it seems to me that the denouement of the incident was decided when Edwards admitted that Donoho had a point.

This is a win for Bill Donohue.

The idea of his group losing its status for people to make tax-deductible donations is pleasant, but it hasn't happened yet.

I think this is a bit of a win for Donahue, and I can't imagine it will hurt him (the tax issue isn't likely to go anywhere, ever). I don't think Edwards has really lost much, though. He's lost Amanda's talents, which is a shame (I honestly don't know what Melissa brought to the campaign, but I know nothing about her technical skills), but I don't see it affecting his campaign. I also think Donahue's claim in the above-quoted press release that Edwards' campaign was in disarray over this is absurd. I mean, this is a relatively small part of Edwards campaign, and a controversy that an extremely small portion of the population knows about, much less cares about. Six months from now, no one outside of the Malkin-reading and liberal portions of the blogosphere will even remember this.

I think this is a bit of a win for Donahue, and I can't imagine it will hurt him (the tax issue isn't likely to go anywhere, ever). I don't think Edwards has really lost much, though. He's lost Amanda's talents, which is a shame (I honestly don't know what Melissa brought to the campaign, but I know nothing about her technical skills), but I don't see it affecting his campaign. I also think Donahue's claim in the above-quoted press release that Edwards' campaign was in disarray over this is absurd. I mean, this is a relatively small part of Edwards campaign, and a controversy that an extremely small portion of the population knows about, much less cares about. Six months from now, no one outside of the Malkin-reading and liberal portions of the blogosphere will even remember this.

"a controversy that an extremely small portion of the population knows about, much less cares about"

Well maybe but the story is on the front page of CNN's website right now.

It's ironic that women who speak out against patriarchal and misogynist threads in organized religion get pummeled with graphic rape threats...

It's not "ironic." It's inevitable. It's also a very disturbing trend line.

To all my blogger sisteren, this man humbly suggests that whatever you're doing to keep yourself safe these days, you should double it.
.

Don't squash dissent, tax it! I like that.

Donohue:dissent::kama sutra:jerking off to J.C. Penney catalog

Shorter Tom Maguire: It's okay to break the law if I like the results.

“It's ironic that women who speak out against patriarchal and misogynist threads in organized religion get pummeled with graphic rape threats...”

I suppose there is a certain irony in that. However, the presence of misogynistic “threads” in organized religion is established orthodoxy amongst feminists and therefore dogmatically accepted amongst academia and the far left.

It is perhaps this belief in widespread and historic “oppression” that underlies the defense of Amanda and the acceptance of such vile and obvious bigotry as just so much “criticism”. I submit that this is the source of the controversy. If you are a feminist you will see her comments as well within the pale. If you are not, you find them bigoted.

I, myself have never accepted much feminism as fact.

“I predict that the biggest loser in all this will be Bill Donohue's Catholic League. In the process of hounding a couple of bloggers, the so-called civil rights organization may have jeopardized its vital 501(c)(3) status. As a tax-exempt organization, the CL is forbidden by law from interfering with political campaigns.”

As an Attorney I highly doubt this outcome. Its not that you cant make a case under the law. Rather it is that such a precedent by both, (1) the Courts & (2) the IRS, would open up a myriad of potential “vital” tax-exemptions being denied multiple groups on the right and left, both secular and religious. (i.e. – you don’t want to go there)

obvious bigotry

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy sister's eye, but considerest not the huge fucking phallus that is in thine own eye?

Shorter Fitz: As an attorney, I don't know shit about feminism.

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