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August 18, 2008

Oooooh.... Lookee Here! It's A Trope!!!!

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Andy.

Andy who?

And he just keeps on digging...

Many readers have noted that versions of this story - attributed to Solzhenitsyn by Chuck Colson - have been a staple of evangelical sermons for a very long time. They aren't always attributed to Solzhenitsyn, but this sermon, preached by Father Luke Veronis, is a classic of the genre. It's a trope, a kind of urban legend in evangelical circles - and, of course, rooted in deep spiritual truth. Used in a sermon as a way to talk about Christ's redeeming power is one thing. Actually saying it happened to you in a specific place and time is another.

And of course, none of this would be salient were it not for the obvious motive for coopting the story. McCain has never been a very devout man. He doesn't come across that way in his first account of the story; and he doesn't come across that way now. But as the Christianists took over the GOP, he must have understood that this was a problem - especially against Bush in 2000. So in 1999, the story, already poignant and true in its particulars, changes into a much more grandiloquent and sectarian affair, echoing deep evangelical themes and tropes.

Yee ha. Don't look under the bed tonight folks.

Especially if you've had too much ice cream. The last thing you want to find is the ghost of big Al Solzhenitsyn, prancing around amorously in one of them trope thingies....

Enough to give a person nasty memories:

This kind of personal attack was repulsive coming against Kerry from the far right. And it's repulsive the other way round. Both Kerry and McCain served their country honorably; and their records should be revered, period. You can make an argument against McCain's foreign policy experience and judgment on its merits. Do it and leave this crap out of it.

Did Sully really say that? Well, what he actually meant was that their records ought to be revered unless Sully-ing them became politically expedient... in which case it's not strictly necessary to find proof before launching one of those 'repulsive personal attacks' he used to abhor:

I've also been unable to locate the actual alleged passage in the Gulag Archipelago that is referred to in Luke Veronis' "The Sign Of The Cross." (If anyone does, please let me know.) But a reader notes that the story of Solzhenitsen and the cross in the dirt was popularized by evangelical leader and former Watergate crook, Chuck Colson. The anecdote appears in Colson's 1983 book, "Loving God."

Oops. As to "when McCain first told the story," that little question appears to have been cleared up. But you know those POW types. Inveterate liars, they are:

"I experienced what I couldn't imagine human nature was capable of," Denton said. "I witnessed what my comrades could rise to. Self-discipline, compassion, a realization there is a God." He also experienced periodic compassion from the North Vietnamese. Sometimes the guards would weep as they tortured him. One experience, he will never forget. Denton kept a cross, fashioned out of broom straws, hidden in a propaganda booklet in his cell. The cross was a gift from another prisoner. When a guard found the cross, he shredded it. Spat on it. Struck Denton in the face. Threw what was left of the cross on the floor and ground his heel into it. "It was the only thing I owned," Denton said.

Later, when Denton returned to his cell, he began to tear up the propaganda booklet. He felt a lump in the book. He opened it. "Inside there was another cross, made infinitely better than the other one my buddy had made," Denton said. When the guard tore up the cross, two Vietnamese workers saw what happened and fashioned him a new cross. "They could have been tortured for what they did," Denton said.

Don't be fooled by the scars. And the trite, made-for-TV PR tales. We all know there were no Christianists in North Vietnam back in the day.

Andy knows better. After the divisive politics of the past 8 years, this is change we can believe in.

Yes, America isn't what she once was, but Obama and his followers are doing their level best to make us proud of ourselves again.

Posted by Cassandra at August 18, 2008 05:47 PM

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Comments

Sully-ing them? Bwahahahahaha.

Was the grabbity fixed?

Posted by: Cricket at August 18, 2008 10:57 PM

Tropes?
Let them loose, the next thing you'll know they'll be all over TV!

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 18, 2008 11:20 PM

The Trouble With Tropes...

Posted by: Cricket at August 18, 2008 11:34 PM

Seared...into his memory, just like that stint up the river during Nixon's administration.

I guess it is time to go over to the Daily Kos and see what the whiners are up to.

Posted by: Cricket at August 18, 2008 11:37 PM

"Don't be fooled by the scars. And the trite, made-for-TV PR tales. We all know there were no Christianists in North Vietnam back in the day."

That term "Christianists" cracks me up when the liberal atheist types use it. Technically, from a purely linguistic P.O.V. (and I am a cunning linguist, after all), a "Christianist" would be someone who studies Christians...not one who endeavors to follow Christ. Just sayin'...

Posted by: camojack at August 19, 2008 01:30 AM

For your Trope Case:

But then, spying the stones at his feet left by his advance staff to show him where his camera mark was, the President crouched down and began to arrange the stones into a cross. He gathered more stones to finish the cross, and then bent his head as though in silent prayer.

Did he disassemble the seawall to get the additional rocks? Omaha is *sand* -- I couldn't even find a pebble to swipe as a souvenir...

http://www.fototime.com/584AE600807957E/orig.jpg

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2008 05:42 AM

Is this what we call a misantrope?

Posted by: Cricket at August 19, 2008 05:55 AM

Drat.

Foiled by Cricket's insomnia...

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2008 05:59 AM

BillT, crickets are nocturnal.

Our Cricket deals in clever emissions.

I like syllogisms.

(hiding under the refrigerator)

Posted by: socialism_is_error at August 19, 2008 07:04 AM

Oh...oh...sputtering...that was righteously wicked.

Posted by: Cricket at August 19, 2008 08:35 AM

> Our Cricket deals in clever emissions.

Hey, Cricket... Rub your legs together until you make a clever noise.

:oP

.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 19, 2008 09:18 AM

.

Hey, does anyone know the way to San Trope?

.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 19, 2008 09:24 AM

LOL...I am trying to write another post for my ethics discussion on virtue. You are not making it easy for me. I keep having flashbacks to VC.

Posted by: Cricket at August 19, 2008 11:01 AM

Just pose a hypothetical to Grim -- you'll get five pages-worth...

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2008 11:25 AM

"...Virtue is - the pathway to Paradise.
Virtue is - the road from Doom.
Vitue is - the fall of depravity,
Barricade - to Hell's dark cavity..."

Alfred Drake and Joan Diener

Not five pages, but it works for me.

Posted by: socialism_is_error at August 19, 2008 01:46 PM

"Barricade - to Hell's dark cavity..."

So, you're saying that Virtue is a *thong*?

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2008 02:31 PM

Well, as William noted, it "thoothes the thavage breatht".

Posted by: socialism_is_error at August 19, 2008 03:18 PM

...and thou'rt a rank mithogynitht.

But, nonetheless, a man of parts. ;)

Posted by: socialism_is_error at August 19, 2008 04:13 PM

"Hey, does anyone know the way to San Trope?"
You take the fork at the thong and continue until you see the sign that says you are leaving Ban De Solei... Next stop San Trope!

Posted by: Stanley Getz at August 19, 2008 04:14 PM

Stepping away from the Daily KOS f-up for a moment, what's interesting if you seach the Google book copy of the Gulag Archipelago for "cross" is that Solzhenitsyn did write that the cross is a recognizable characteristic of prisoners dreams. It's a short mention, but I think its interesting that McCain's experience, if it had happened in a Russian Gulag, would have been considered to be perfectly normal if it were experienced as part of a dream.

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 19, 2008 04:34 PM

Well, the primary differences between a Vietnamese POW camp and a Russian gulag were that

1. a gulag occupant wouldn't be killed out of hand for shooing a chicken out of a freshly-seeded vegetable patch and

2. Vietnamese is a tonal language.

However, the whole point of the McCain vignette is that it was an *abnormal* occurrence.

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2008 07:01 PM

The whole "controversy" is just beyond stupid.

Sullivan is wasting I can't tell you how much time trying to do the impossible (prove a negative). I was tempted to call the logic police on him, but the poor boy is beyond help at this point. Now that he has firmly established that Solzhenitsyn did *not* (as he at first alleged) write the story he alleges McCain stole, he is reduced to trying to figure out where in the helk McCain *could* have stolen it from.

The operative premise being, of course, that contrary to every known precept of Western jurisprudence, McCain is guilty until proven innocent :p

What a fricking maroon.

Why the hell doesn't he just do some research into the Early Christianists, who used to draw crosses and fish into the sand (no doubt with all sort of implements) as a secret means of identifying other Christianists without the Evil Romans catching on?

Any idjut who had any amount of Bible study (guess that leave Dandy Andy out) knows that. I learned it as a little girl. So it's hardly implausible that Vietnamese "Christianists" would use the gesture to reveal themselves to a fellow Christianist, sub rosa. And the truth is that we'll just never know the truth, will we?

But hey - Andy prefers to spin conspiracy theories because it gins up his SiteMeter.

Moron.

Posted by: Inconceeeeeeivable!!!! at August 19, 2008 07:20 PM

Personally I hope he keeps it up, because he's just making himself look like even more of a pain in the ass (no pun intended) than he already is.

Posted by: Inconceeeeeeivable!!!! at August 19, 2008 07:22 PM

Hey as long as Andrew is at least a foot or two away from you, he can't create a pain in the patoot.

But he's in deep merde now because he took a story he wanted to believe was true, and ran with it. Now he has to walk back the cat. It happens to be people who don't know what they are talking about. Look at Obama's problems for many other examples of such sloppy thinking.

Posted by: Mike Myers at August 19, 2008 07:25 PM

"Sullivan is wasting I can't tell you how much time trying to do the impossible (prove a negative)."
Amen Milad... er M. Inconceeeeeeivable... *makes sign of the garland of garlic, with a Secret Order of the Maroonic Lodge handshake to boot*
"The operative premise being, of course, that contrary to every known precept of Western jurisprudence, McCain is guilty until proven innocent :p"
And would you believe, McCain smuggles crib notes into the Cone of Silence™ simply to make his debate opponent look like the lightweight that he is!

Oh the Obamanation on cloven hoof!

Posted by: bt_what-me-worry_hun at August 19, 2008 07:49 PM

> Sullivan is wasting I can't tell you how much time trying to do the impossible (prove a negative)

Not to suggest I disagree with the statement's operational part, but, FYI, that idea (that you can't prove a negative) is a common logical error.

Mathematicians do it all the time, and the technique, while not as easily implemented in daily experience, still holds sway:

You prove a negative using a technique called Proof By Contradiction. In daily life it's more commonly called by the Latin: Reductio ad absurdum.

Assume the positive is correct. Show, by logical steps, how a contradiction occurs, usually in the form of 1=0 (or two other distinct numbers equal one another), or that the negative is true at the same time as the positive was assumed correct -- that is, mutually exclusive conditions ensue. Ergo, the positive cannot be correct, so the negative must be.

This assumes binary logic, another source of of common logical fallacy in daily life -- many Real World problems are not binary, but trinary in nature: True, False, and "Makes No Sense". The classic question of "Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife Yet?" is an example -- True (meaning you've beaten her in the past), False (meaning you're still beating her), or "Makes No Sense" (You've never beaten her at all). Regardless of your opinion on the applicability and desirability of beating women, the question-situation is a trinary case, not a binary one.

I'm assuming most readers (hopefully) fall into the "Makes No Sense" category, probably in more ways than one. :o)

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 20, 2008 02:22 AM

> Hey as long as Andrew is at least a foot or two away from you, he can't create a pain in the patoot.

What, you've never heard of ranged weapons?

:oP

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 20, 2008 02:24 AM

Real World problems are not binary, but trinary in nature: True, False, and "Makes No Sense".

And the corollary, "Makes No Sense, But He's Soooooo Sincere It *Must* Be Real."

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 03:17 AM

OBH,

"Mathematicians do it all the time, and the technique, while not as easily implemented in daily experience, still holds sway:"
I have known mathematicians, mathematicians were my friends, and Monsieur Sully ain't no mathematician. Nor are his allegations derived from logic... or even a modicum of research.

Did Sully question any of McCain's fellow POW's on the subject? Col. Bud Day? Nope? So by my binary estimation, (btw, did you know that are 10 types of people in the world?) it's just a desire to devalue McCain's POW experiences and his character. More political nonsense during this, the silly season.

Sheesh. This has been a silly season. First I found myself defending Hillary Clinton earlier this year and now this... I think I'll go out back and do something destructive now.

Posted by: bt_in-an-indeterminate-state_hun at August 20, 2008 06:46 AM

The mathematical proof doesn't make any sense, however, in the context of this example.

How on earth is anyone going to conclusively "prove" a condition mutually exclusive with this story having happened, especially as similar things have happened to other POWs?

The truth is that I really don't give a flying wallenda whether it happened or not. The whole thing is dumb because it's not a matter of official record and arguing over it is worse than a waste of time. It's not as though there were any kind of official record anyone can FOIA that would ever prove it one way or another.

People really need to get a grip here and realize how stupid this makes them look.

Posted by: Inconceeeeeeivable!!!! at August 20, 2008 08:30 AM

...especially as similar things have happened to other POWs...

...which doesn't prove it happened either, by the way. It just makes it damned hard to argue that it *couldn't* have happened, and makes Sully look even more petulant than usual.

Posted by: Inconceeeeeeivable!!!! at August 20, 2008 08:32 AM

It just makes it damned hard to argue that it *couldn't* have happened...

Especially since he didn't query any primary sources.

Almost forty years after the fact, I had one of my VHPA buddies mention an incident on one of our flights that seemed trivial at the moment, considering everything else that was happening. Now, whenever I think about it, everything else about that flight revolves around that one incident. People's synapses snap in different ways, and it is what it is...

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 09:02 AM

This is off-topic for this thread, but I need to vent. I just sent an email to DNC chair Dean asking what he's going to do about keeping the Democrats from self-immolating again. I'm astounded that no one has put an f'n leash on Hilary Clinton and her supporters yet. Did anyone read Maureen Dowd's Op/Ed today? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/opinion/20dowd.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin


In fact, now that I think about it, I'm going to ask the same question to WA Governor Christine Gregoire (a Dem) who's speaking at our company in an hour.

This is one area where I give Republicans full credit. They know what teamwork means. The Dems wouldn't know teamwork if it bit them in their collective asses.

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 20, 2008 12:38 PM

Are you sure this is Clinton's fault? Maybe it's the electorate who don't really want to fall in line -- in which case, cracking down on her would only worsen the problem.

Posted by: Grim at August 20, 2008 12:56 PM

No comment! =8^}

Posted by: bt_in-an-indeterminate-state_hun at August 20, 2008 01:45 PM

-- in which case, cracking down on her would only worsen the problem.

That all depends on your point of view.

Personally, I think it's just as spiffy an idea as the Sign of the O, or superimposing Obie's pic on an inverted American flag, or telling him to claim he slept through twenty years worth of Jeremiah Wright's sermons, or claiming the surge worked but it wasn't necessary, or...

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 02:10 PM

But it's done now. We have a nominee - for better or for worse. Time for debate and back-stabbing is over. Like I said - no sense of teamwork.

As far as the blunders made on Obama's part, Bill, McCain's camp as a very impressive list as well.

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 20, 2008 03:25 PM

People who backbited and sabotaged the Iraq War after Bush gave them plenty of time to air their complaints, should not be given the gift, that they refused all others, of acceding to their leadership.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 20, 2008 03:51 PM

"But it's done now" isn't the point. The point is, are you dealing with a Clinton insurgency -- or a popular insurgency? You need different tactics depending on the answer to that question.

I don't assert that I know the answer, by the way; but I think you'd better know it before you decide on a course of action.

For example, the PUMA people -- whom Obama supporters have been loudly proclaiming to be just a handful of extremists -- are pushing a massive email campaign. Now, that could mean "ten people sent a massive number of emails," or it could mean that there is a large-scale resistance, with dozens or hundreds of people sending a few emails.

The only real clue to that is an Obama supporter quoted in the article who says that "some" of the attacks are overtly racist, and "others" declare Obama to be the anti-Christ.

(As to which -- remember me warning about that following Obama's victory speech? And I said, Obama should go out of his way to avoid this kind of heal-the-world-lower-the-seas rhetoritc? That this kind of rhetoric is too easy to fit into a Biblical model that will be understood by millions of Americans as false prophecy? And that such an understanding will have consequences? Welcome to my world.)

Now if it's Hillary, you can take after her and maybe crack down on her bad actors. But if this is really a grassroots movement -- which seems suggested by the multiple types of emails, and outright use of racism and religious imagery that no campaign could afford -- going hard after Hillary will only drive them away from the party. The same strategy that might suppress a Hillary insurgency could break the Democratic party, if used against a popular insurgency.

Now, you do what seems right to you. I'm just saying -- speaking as a COIN guy -- I'd want to know for sure which kind of insurgency it was before I pulled the trigger.

Posted by: Grim at August 20, 2008 04:18 PM

Like I said - no sense of teamwork.

Oh, I dunno, considering their motto: "You can't spell *Teamwork* without *M-E*!"

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 04:21 PM

Grim, I don't see this as anything even remotely close to a "popular insurgency" against Obama. I think if that were the case we'd hear about it at the delegate level, and we're not. Today I spoke with a Hilary delegate who is getting emails from Hilary to vote for Obama.

What we ARE hearing about is Bill Clinton hating Barack Obama and Hilary's top fundraisers meeting with John McCain, and Hilary and Bill demanding (and getting) top slots at the Convention.

Hilary is conducting herself like Russia where Russia announces that its pulling its troops out of Georgia again and again but somehow those troops remain inside Georgia's borders.

I swear that if the Dems don't get it together at the Convention, I'm going to become my representatives worst nightmare.

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 20, 2008 08:06 PM

Jeffery,

Since we're taking the vector less traveled, can you 'splain to me the consistency, or inconsistency, of the democrat position with regard to the the Electoral College and their delegate versus super-delegate weighting?

I'm so confused...

Posted by: bthun at August 20, 2008 08:30 PM

But it's done now. We have a nominee - for better or for worse. Time for debate and back-stabbing is over. Like I said - no sense of teamwork.

As far as the blunders made on Obama's part, Bill, McCain's camp as a very impressive list as well.

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 20, 2008 03:25 PM,

Whoo-hoo! Take this young man to the kitchen

Posted by: spd rdr at August 20, 2008 08:35 PM

As far as I can tell, Jeffrey, the stories about Bill hating Obama (or at least about Bill badmouthing Obama) are mostly a media creation made up from snippets. For example, when asked if Obama was ready to be President, most news outlets reported Clinton saying, "You could argue that no one is ever ready to be president." In fact, Clinton said a lot more than that:

You could argue that no one is ever ready to be president. I mean, I certainly learned a lot about the job in the first year. You could argue that even if you've been vice president for eight years, that no one can ever be fully ready for the pressures of the office. And that everyone learns something, and something different. You could argue that. He's shown a keen strategic sense in his ability to run an effective campaign. He clearly can inspire and motivate people and energize them which is a very important part of being a president. And he's smart as a whip, so there's nothing he can't learn.

As for Dowd reporting that Bill said McCain's energy program is just as good as Obama's, The Daily Howler says that's not true. (You'd probably enjoy his whole column today on the Dowd article.)

There's a limit to how much control Hillary has over her fundraisers and her supporters just as there's a limit to how much control Obama has over his. As far as I can tell, Hillary is doing everything she can to support Obama - there are even rumors her PUMA-type supporters are angry with her for giving her best effort for Obama.

As for the convention, I don't know what to say about that. The idea of having Hillary get her roll call seemed reasonable when I first heard it - a way to show her supporters she was getting respect and a way for Obama to look gracious. The news that some Clinton supporters are apparently trying to hijack the convention is bad news for the Democrats, for Obama, and for Clinton. If Clinton supporters cause a huge upset, it won't matter how well Hillary has supported Obama - she'll still be blamed.

Bill? Well, he is a former President so his being there seems reasonable. And if he wasn't there, it would just feed the Clinton is dissing Obama rumors. Frankly, if I were Bill Clinton wild horses couldn't drag me anywhere near Denver.

Posted by: Elise at August 20, 2008 08:41 PM

Actually, I like Maureen Dowd. And her Op/Ed, an obvious satire, came out on the same day as this news item about members of Clinton's family and one of her large fundraisers meeting with someone from McCain's camp.

http://www.politicker.com/former-clinton-backers-meet-mccain-surrogate

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 20, 2008 11:21 PM

It's funny. When I read about that meeting here it sounds much less portentous. And I love the ending:

Lackawanna County Recorder of Deeds Evie Rafalko McNulty, a Clinton convention delegate who plans to support Mr. Obama after the convention, lamented Mr. Rodham’s appearance at Mr. Brazil’s home for the private get-together with Ms. Fiorina.

“Poor Hillary,” she said. “You can pick you friends, but you can’t pick your family.”

Posted by: Elise at August 21, 2008 12:47 AM

I think if that were the case we'd hear about it at the delegate level, and we're not.

That must be why Democrats don't like the electoral college. True popularity and the power of the people goes through delegates, not electors.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 21, 2008 01:52 AM

.

> (btw, did you know that are 10 types of people in the world?)

I go for the Dolly Parton version:
There're two kinds 'a people...an' you ain't either one of 'em!
- Dolly Parton -

:oP

.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 21, 2008 06:55 AM

> It's not as though there were any kind of official record anyone can FOIA that would ever prove it one way or another.

I think we should encourage the KOS kids to all get busy and submit FOIA requests to the Vietnamese government....

BWAAAAhahahahahahahahaaaaa!!!

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 21, 2008 06:58 AM

> The Dems wouldn't know teamwork if it bit them in their collective asses.

It's only a matter of time until cannibalism sets in. Sooner or later, they're going to start eating their young...


Soylent Green is.... DEMOCRATS!!!

.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 21, 2008 07:00 AM

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