Today’s Quick Moral Judgment

The Israeli newspaper that published the content of Barack Obama’s message to God, which he had placed in the cracks of the Western Wall:



116 Comments on “Today’s Quick Moral Judgment”

  1. On the bright side, at least nobody ran a made-up prayer like “Dear Lord, please forgive me for what I did with Larry Sinclair.”

  2. Wrong. Prayer is private. Posting anything anywhere on the Internet = no privacy, and anyone expecting it is at best naive. Leaving a prayer at the Western Wall = expectation of privacy/confidentiality. Has anyone else’s prayer been ‘outed’ like this?


  3. Isn’t this a desecration along the same lines as removing an offering from the temple?
    The prayer writer gave the prayer to God and then some twit stole it from God.

  4. My response: Moral outrage for 5 seconds, clicking the link to find out what he wrote, satisfaction, and back to moral outrage. I think I’ve filled my personal hypocrisy requirement for the day.

  5. This is so many levels of wrong I can’t even begin to fathom the repercussions. I prolly would avoid standing too close to the guy who pulled this out for a few days in order to avoid any stray locust swarms or lightning strikes. Eaves dropping on a private conversation with the Maker of the Universe at the holiest site in the Holy City then selling the details to the highest bidder to publish for advertising revenue?

    In 1960s Batman’s sidekick’s voice – “Holy prayer snatching Batman!”

  6. I like how AP simultaneously criticise Maariv for publishing the prayer, and then quote the entire thing.
    Stay classy, AP.

  7. I don’t think AP was criticizing, just reporting. And once it’s out there, it’s out there. It just shouldn’t have gotten out there at all.

  8. Is any further discussion other than “that’s wrong” needed?

    And it would probably be a good idea not to stand too close to the editors of Maariv for a month or so, in case they get struck by lightening or something.

  9. Patrick Rennie @ 4:

    Yeah, I did that too. Curiosity won out over… whatever. Rationalization of “it’s published now, can’t put the genie back in the bottle” yadda yadda ensued.

    I don’t think I’d have even wondered about his prayer, if it weren’t published, though. ‘S entirely between him and his God, nobody else’s business.

  10. My inner snark wonders why it took so long to get in the paper and is not surprised that someone was standing there to remove the prayer. And I suspect he knew that this would happen.

    But that doesn’t make right.

  11. You know, I’m Jewish, so I suppose I should be especially outraged. But I saw pictures of Obama at the wall, and admit my first thought was curiosity as to what he wrote. So I clicked on the link to it when I saw it yesterday with alacrity.

    I wouldn’t have been the one to grab it from the wall, though. I was there back in January and pretty overcome by its history and awesomeness (in the Biblical sense). But I wonder how much difference there is.

    So here comes another. Deliberately clicking a link that you know will lead to a publication of Obama’s private prayer: Wrong.


  12. It’s wrong. It’s private and it’s personal. It’s sad that even though he is a public figure he can’t keep something supposedly sacred out of the hands of the media. People come from all over the world to place prayers on that wall. I guess he’s learned an important lesson, there really is no privacy for a person running for president, no matter how sacred it’s suppose to be it’s not gonna remain private for long.

  13. It’s not very nice, but it’s more than just a little stretch to extend an expectation of privacy to notes stuffed in the cracks of a very public wall.

  14. Agree. Of course.

    However, I can’t help but notice that the contents of the prayer is exactly what one would expect from a humble man of the people, who might or might not be called to perform a major job… such as prez of the western world.

    It’s amazingly non-specific in its requests. No specifics on sins. No specifics of the task at hand. nada. So amazingly non-specific in fact that it seems clear he’s either:

    1) completely passionless

    2) a non-believer who respectfully follows the quaint customs of the religion he purports to embrace

    3) utterly aware that this would probably end up published.

    I believe option 3 to be the truth.

  15. Probably wrong, but does it really matter if something put into a public space doesn’t remain private?

    It’s not like God didn’t actually get the message.

  16. When I clicked on the link, I expected a story about the publication, not the prayer itself. I did read it when I saw it. I like it. But I have no right to know it. So I will come down on the side of “WRONG” even if it makes me a hypocrite.

    According to every televangelist in the South, I am already a hypocrite by claiming to be a gay born-again Christian. So what else is new?

  17. The note is so ecumenical and inoffensive to anyone that I’m waiting for someone in McCain’s camp to accuse Obama of planning the whole thing.

    (And yes…wrong!)

  18. Peter,
    In some churches it’s a sin to ask specifics of God.
    Then again what did they expect him to ask for, destiny to lead armageddon oh wait that’s some one else.

  19. Oh, so wrong…on so many levels…This almost verges on eavesdropping on confessions…

    Worse, it was a religious student that committed the crime!!

    My suggestion would be to remove the guilty seminary student from the seminary, maybe by the local police. He is obviously a thief, and a glory seeker, neither of which is appropriate for an individual studying to be a leader in their faith.

    More than likely he was paid for his transgression by the paper, and he should have to donate the money to a charity and not spend his ill-gotten gains.

    The Wailing Wall is a sacred place, and prayers left by pilgrims of all faith and station should be respected.

  20. I don’t think it’s possible for non-Israelis to grasp just what a huge and unspeakable violation this is. Israeli politicians and public figures have been going to the Wailing Wall for years, and never, never has anyone even considered rifling through the notes they leave there. It’s such a huge taboo that I’m not even aware of the possibility being discussed. If Obama were Israeli or Jewish, no one would have dared to do what Maariv did, but because he’s a foreigner he’s treated like public property. It’s disgusting, and I can’t imagine just what was going through the Maariv editor’s head when he decided to run this piece.

  21. I’m just surprised it didn’t end up on ebay.

    I have to agree with Peter @ 16. What did people think it would say? “please please please i wanna win i wanna win please please PLEEEEEEZZZ!”

  22. While I find it dismaying that politicians still feel, in the early 21st century, that they have to genuflect to people’s superstitions and write letters to imaginary sky beings in order to get elected (why not throw in a note to Santa while you’re at it — “Dear Santa, please send me world peace and a pony”), this was still clearly a sensationalist grab on the paper’s part. To which I add, knock me over with a feather. Should I be surprised that overseas “journalism” has descended to the ethically dubious levels of American “journalism”? And yes, I’m still voting for Obama, because, despite the interference of the paper, he still seems to be a guy who recognizes that religion is a private matter, unlike the pious and grandstanding GOP. And McCain can’t even get the names of foreign countries straight.

  23. @16:

    such as prez of the western world.

    Hello? Here’s a newsflash for you, Mr American Redneck: US doesn’t equal western world.

  24. I really wish we didn’t have a religious test for our elected officials. I mean, it would be pretty awesome if we didn’t have to care about these irrelevancies in an election year.

  25. The “student” who stole the prayer was immoral, and obviously a bad “Jewish seminary student.”

    The prayer itself isn’t news; the theft and publishing of it was. The original newspaper who published it was unethical. AP shouldn’t have published it, but I don’t see them as being quite as unethical as the original paper. (Although, the rest of the Israeli news outlets managed to contain themselves!)

    Ivan: I clicked, without knowing the prayer would be there; but I’d’ve clicked anyway. I don’t feel that’s wrong. On the other paw, I couldn’t care less what the prayer was; I was interested in the circumstances and reactions. Maybe I’d feel differently if I didn’t care about the entire story, but I doubt it. I don’t feel people have to avoid news just in case there’s something that shouldn’t be there.

  26. Here’s what I got out of that article…
    MSNBC: Printing that note was a violation of Obama’s privacy and an affront to his relationship with God!
    Now, here’s the text of his note…

  27. Made of wrong. If I had known the link went to a copy of the prayer instead of controversy coverage, I wouldn’t have clicked. When I did see the prayer, I clicked back.

    In the unlikely event that I am in a similar situation to Mr Obama, I will be sure to write in code. The gods will be able to read it and Snoopy ben Venial won’t get anything out of it.

  28. Peter: How cynical and unimaginative; you can really only think of those possibilities?! For a short hand-written prayer, not written in extremis?

    When I was Christian, my prayers weren’t very specific either, except under special circumstances like my plane taking off. ;-) I certainly didn’t enumerate all my sins every time I prayed, or ask for presents from god (“I can haz presidency?”), etc.

    Anyway, I feel there’s nothing passionless, faithless, or cynical about Obama’s prayer…except perhaps to the passionless, faithless, and/or cynical. ;-) I’m agnostic and cynical myself (2 outta 3!), but respect faith in others. Obama’s prayer was just fine, IMHO.

    Dan: Many people don’t have a “religious test”; IMHO it’s just religious zealots (a small fraction of the populace). Sure, they make it a big deal and get people talking about it; but I believe the non-zealots would be just fine with no religious stuff being brought up. Cursed zealots! ;-/

  29. The only thing that bothers me about this is that all the news reports I’ve seen have said this is a big no-no, but yet have no problem whatsoever passing the contents of his note around to their readers. So, either the newspapers really don’t care, or they’re just stupid. I dunno, I’m just weird on this. I guess it’s wrong, but it doesn’t bother me all that much…

  30. @Anonymous: I did not know about those “non-specific” churches. That might explain it, yes. However, this one is even less specific than The Lord’s Prayer, which I assume IS allowed :)

    @XXX: I am not a resident of the US. I live in Denmark and has done so since I was born. Also, my neck is rather pale.

    I know that the US Prez has no formal power here, however, I also recognize that he has insane amounts of de facto power. Lots of danish soldiers has died in a war we entered because the US Prez told us that there were no doubt Iraq had “nuculars”. Furthermore, Obama’s people are presently taking him around Europe to meet and greet, and he is quite popular here. 200000 germans were there a few days ago to hear him speak in Berlin. If he is elected, his de facto power in Europe will be far greater than that of Bush’s.

    @Kendall: Cynical, indeed. But I do think you misread my note. I do not believe Obama to be passionless, nor a non-believer. I believe him to have been acutely aware that this note might very well end up published, and therefore have written a very harmless note. (And I am myself a christian and would probably have written a more special prayer for such a special situation. But that’s me.)

  31. I think it was an evil and venial thing to do. No, I can’t imagine Obama thought anyone would do that. To my knowledge, this has never happened before and I am disgusted. I think the seminary student should be expelled- he broke a whole lotof religious and moral laws.

  32. Wrong, wrong, dead wrong. And for a Yeshiva student to do it is unbelievably wrong. There’s a doctrine in Judaism that demands that Jews not act in a fashion that profanes God; to refrain from causing a ‘Chillul Hashem.’ To do such a thing near the holiest site in Judaism (NOT the Western Wall, but the Temple Mount, from which the Wall derives its own status) is beyond inexcusable.

    As for Maariv printing it, I’m happy to say that I’m a Yediot Achronot reader anyway.

    Again, wrong wrong wrong.

  33. Commenters seem to be of the opinion that it’s the first time this happens.

    If true, is Abigail @23’s explanation (foreigner = public property) complete, or is there some other reason behind the gesture. Did the student believe Obama to be so special that his prayer would instruct / elevate the masses. Is Obama’s prayer, for any reason at all, not worthy of the respect due others at the wall. And if so: is it because he’s a democrat, an american, black, or a closet muslim; Is the whole thing, maybe, a marketing campaign (directly or indirectly) by the Obama camp?

    The uniqueness of the act seems to me to merit more than conventional discussions about the “decaying” moral values of Yeshiva students and Journalism in modern day Israel.

    Oh, and for the record: not wrong.

  34. Given that Rupert Murdoch and the Carlyle Group now own most of the AP, I am not so suprised that they would not only print that the theft had occured but print the prayer itself.

  35. Is it possible that he intended for it to be found and read? It was a perfect prayer… or at least well written. In todays politics and power nothning is left up to chance.
    Just a thought!

  36. Even if he meant it to be read, that doesn’t excuse the actions of the student in removing it, or Maariv in publishing it.

  37. #12 TanyaD: You wondered whether they would have done the same to McCain? Of course they would have! Your statement says more about you than it does about the idiots that took that note from the wall.

    #16 Peter: My cynicism says #3 also.

    #18 JJS: When I linked on the story, I hadn’t even thought that the prayer was there. I was interested in who would flippantly disregard so private an act.

    #23 Abigail: Thanks.

    #25 TM: “pious and grandstanding GOP”? Try some objectivity and you might be surprised instead of simply a Dem apologist.

    I took the words of his prayer to be those of a man who has the same wishes as I have, that most people would have regardless of the religion or lack thereof. I happen to fall into the latter category – and I’m one of those GOP hypocrits, eh TM? I will not vote for Obama. I believe Obama to be the wrong person for the job and relish those negatives that actually stick to him, but I would never ever agree with the kind of trespass Maariv easily condoned. When it comes to his religion, I must give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I am cynical and suspect of the left-wing, but I cannot agree with the possibility Paul threw out there.

    People like Nargel probably think that the liberal leaning of 90% of the journalism corps automatically makes them subservient to the presumably conservative ownership of the some of the media. Do you honestly believe the major media outlets lean on the conservative side? If so, then explain FOX News: 1 out of many.

  38. This is a clear violation of deity-client privilege.

    The most shocking thing is that it was apparently a seminary student who took the prayer from the wall! You would think he would know better.

  39. I believe this is a violation of seminary code—the student who removed it and made it public could be expelled.

    But it should be illegal.

  40. Wrong, wrong, wrong, in a huge number of ways.

    Do not look at the other notes, even if they’re visible. Do not pick them up. Do not take them from the wall. If you manage to read one, forget it. Do not repeat it, there is no need. God has already heard it.

    If someone does repeat such a thing to you (and how do you know that they’re telling the truth?) don’t pass it along!

    Epic WRONG!.

  41. Pat Smythe @ 41

    The boss usually picks the slant. That is what is called staying employed. Note that 5 people/famlies have taken control of 9o+% of the media since deregulation.

    As for the “balance” of Fox, I just point to the past WH press secretary’s statements as to the obedience to and relaying of WH talking points as an ongoing useful propaganda policy. And if you don’t notice that FOX is the republican version of Pravda, I suggest you pay a little more attention to the world around you. It becomes very obvious after comparing reality vs foxspin.

    The so-called liberal bias of the media, if it ever really existed, disappeared shortly after Reagan deregulated the media. The same process has occured in many other industries (insurance, healthcare, energy, banking, housing, etc) when robber baron methods were unleashed upon the rest of us.

  42. Wrong. It reminds me of something I saw at a Found Magazine show. I don’t know if it made it into one of the issues or not, but someone had found little notes in Polish (I think, but I may have the language wrong) in a bush or tree, and they kept taking them and bringing them home, and then eventually got someone to translate, and they were all personal prayers that had to do with terminal illness. They then I think tried to lie in wait for the person who was leaving them. I can’t remember if they spoke to her or not, but they did at least see her. In any case, it seemed horrible to speak the translations of the prayers to an audience.

  43. Taking the prayer – WRONG!
    No one’s prayer has EVER been outed. I’m a secular Israeli Jew and I wouldn’t think of doing this. I have a cynically low opinion of seminary students to begin with – depending on which seminary, the students there might not consider non-Jews worthy of any courtesy (so yes, they probably would have done the same to McCain).

    Publishing the prayer – wrong.
    On the other hand, this is Maariv, so what do you expect? You’re not familiar with it, but this paper is basically slime (think New York Post, only lower – they have a girl in bikini page). I might be confusing them with another paper, but a few years ago, a high-ranking military officer was lecturing to cadets. He got a note during his lecture, and one of the cadets delivered it to at least on of the major papers (I remember Maariv, but I could be wrong). The note was published, the cadet was kicked out of his course.

    The prayer itself – yes, it seems rather simple, but simple doesn’t equal not passionate. I don’t ascribe any nefarious plan to Obama to have it published.
    All the (apparently) religious people criticizing the prayer – what exactly do you think a religious man running for president would/should write (given that space is rather limited)?

  44. Jeez people, the whole Wailing Wall thing was just an Obama photo op!
    Members of my church conclude our service with a “rolling prayer”. Someone, usually our preacher, starts it, anyone is free to chime in with their own prayer and say anything they wish. Sometimes it’s the very moving and spiritual thing to hear.

  45. Left it inferred earlier, for the record:

    taking the prayer-wrong
    publishing the prayer-wrong
    the prayer itself-not our business.

  46. #41: If it’s any consolation I thought Hillary was a pretty pious grandstander too. Though on the whole, you don’t tend to see the likes of Huckabee and Katherine Harris lining up to get on the Dem ticket, nor do Dems suck up to guys like Hagee and Parsley and Dobson for endorsements.

    So yeah, “objectively” speaking, the GOP does pander to Christian Right extremists and Dominionists more than the Dems. I fail to see how pointing out that clear and objective fact makes me a “Dem apologist.”

  47. Ken S, we’re not talking about a speech in New Orleans in front of construction equipment that’s removed after the speech ends: that’s a photo op. This is someone doing something that thousand, maybe millions, of others have odne, with the understanding that whatever you write and leave is sacred.

    The student that took it, and the newspaper that printed it: wrong. The AP and the others that ran the picture with the story, not as bad but still wrong, because the story wasn’t the prayer being left there, but its theft and printing.

  48. My suspicion is that Obama simultaneously expected privacy, like everyone before him had, but was fully aware of the possibility that his expectations might not be met, as he isn’t foolish. As a believer, he would write a sincere prayer, but as an intelligent person, would leave out the specifics in case his privacy was violated.

  49. the consensus is (and I agree) that taking/ selling the prayer to a newspaper = epic wrong

    I also believe that the AP is wrong to repeat the prayer in AP stories

    I think that the content of the prayer is none of our business

    Mr Scalzi – I’m sorry- But I think you are wrong for linking to the AP story (assuming you knew that the contents of the prayer were contained in the story you linked to.

    Let me draw an anology-
    producing child porn = wrong
    reporting about child porn , by displaying child porn = wrong

    and to those that critisize the content/ language of the prayer as if Obama suspected it might become public – imagine you’re a ‘method actor’ everything to do/say/breathe is in character-Obama’s prayer being polished, unoffensive, kinda sounds like almost everything he says in public – because at some level you have to actually believe the stuff you are talking about for others to believe you.

  50. Yeah, wrong.

    But I’m glad to know that if Obama is hoping that the Almighty will strike McCain down with leprosy, he’s smart enough not to put it in writing.

  51. As many people have said before me:WRONG.I’m an Israeli atheist Jew and for me doing such a thing is literally beyond thought- these notes are supposed to be private messages: I even remember leaving one when I was younger and more impressionable.

    @all the people who think there should be a specific law against this:you’re well meaning, but very wrong- some things should never be legislated, but remain the purview of custom and ethics.

  52. @all the people who think there should be a specific law against this:you’re well meaning, but very wrong- some things should never be legislated, but remain the purview of custom and ethics.

    I wasn’t saying @ 44 that there should be a law, merely observing that the fact that there wasn’t was a deeper indication of cultural nature of this.

  53. #41 PAT – Just to clarify: I’m sufficiently left wing leaning to be considered a rabid bolshevik by some of my friends, and will gladly/blindly vote for Obama in November.

    The possibilities I threw out there are genuine questions: what could the paper’s motives be, given the immensity of the taboo that’s been broken. What could they see that would justify the flak they’re getting.

    I just find the whole “journalists have no moral today” a little easy, and would like somebody with knowledge of Israeli culture and politics to dig in a little deeper.

    And this has nothing to do with me not being overly bothered by the act. I’m an atheist, and I have a hard time finding automatic moral outrage at breaking religious rules. There obviously is a big social and religious taboo about lifting prayers from the wall. The guy who did it should probably have known better. But it’s not in my world, so can’t get my knickers in a twist.

  54. As a devout atheist and disprespecter of religious observances, I have to say: yep, wrong. Don’ do that.

    What *I* want to know is, if all these thousands of people have been stuffing paper notes into the gaps in the wall for all these years, why hasn’t the wall fallen over from all the paper jammed between the stones?

  55. Its wrong,
    Have you considered the fact that it might be a pre-made plan and that Obama’s advisors knew that it will be leaking to the media ?

    Anyhow putting notes in the western wall cracks is not a religious act. But yest it certainly punctures Obama’s privecy.

    This is the price we have to pay for democracy.

  56. @61: The story from AP explains it (Yes, I read it. I’m a bad wabbit): Once a year all the prayers are removed and buried (not burned).

  57. Pat Smythe @41 and some others: McCain went to Jerusalem in March, visited the Western Wall, left a note with a prayer in a crack in the wall and nobody took it to publish it in a newspaper.

    You can read it here”.

  58. mjfgates@61:

    Twice a year, the notes are removed and buried on the Mount of Olives.

  59. I’m an atheist but a former Orthodox Jew. My initial reaction was revulsion that one of those notes would be violated. As always in these kinds of matters, I tested that reaction for “old circuits” that might still be firing.

    On reflection, I still think it wrong but not as surprising as I might have 15 years ago. No presidential candidate has (or should have) an expectation of privacy in any setting whatsoever. This does not make it right, but it was probably inevitable.

    #36: That the Yeshiva student who snagged his note created a chillul l’hashem, why does this surprise you now? Seems to be just about all they do anymore anyway.

  60. Ick. People really disgust me sometimes. That’s just low. Reading other people’s correspondence – regardless of who from and to whom – is just icky. Basic respect for other people, right there. Kudos to the paper who said “Well, we got a copy but we’re not printing it”.

    Just plain wrong. I hope whoever stole that piece of paper gets kicked out of seminary so hard they bounce. Everyone else who printed it should just be plain ashamed of themselves – “once it’s out, it’s out” is a bit like saying “it’s an unfair world”. A convenient cop-out instead of taking a bit of responsibility for protecting someone else’s privacy.

    And I say that as a militant agnostic.

  61. I’m assuming Senator Obama requested the cameras follow him to the wall in order to capture him placing the prayer in the wall, so I don’t think it’s so outrageous that someone removed the prayer and published it. The political machine is too well-designed for this to have been a truly private prayer.

    It benefits Obama more than it hurts him, for people to be outraged at this small act of “invading” his “privacy.” In fact, it would seem to be the perfect, easy kind of PR that a good public relations specialist would orchestrate.

  62. Aaaaaah. Maybe this time it will pass: McCain went to Jerusalem in March, visited the Western Wall and put a prayer on a crack: you can read it here and you can see him here (minute 0:42).

    You can draw your conclusions.

  63. Not entirely sure why the spam filter blocked several people’s attempts to post about McCain visiting the Western Wall. Sorry about that, folks.

  64. #23 Abigail “I don’t think it’s possible for non-Israelis to grasp just what a huge and unspeakable violation this is.” Yet it was an Israelis who filched the note and an Israelis news paper that published it.
    Obama being the political animal that he is did the right thing in writing an innocuous prayer knowing full well that it COULD be taken and published. I would compare this to a famous person making a sex tape. It’s a bad idea but if you are going to do it make sure you aren’t doing something too kinky because it WILL end up on youtube eventually. Well he had to leave a note because it is what you do at the wall but he didn’t need to risk a kinky prayer.
    Oh and it was wrong to take it and it was wrong to publish it and I was totally not suprised that both happened. On the list of wrongs that happened that day it was hardly a blip on the wrong radar.

  65. Note the first line

    Flogging Molly – Screaming At The Wailing Wall

    So God how come every wrong’s been done?
    With deals no Christ should allow
    Once the communist now the terroist
    With blood as thick as yours
    Now a caravan of clouds
    Warns us all of winter showers
    Then rattle comes the rain
    With each bullet screams your name

    [The rest clipped because posting full lyrics is not kosher — heh — copyright-wise — JS]

  66. Sorry. Silly of me, first line was all that was needed. Hazards of cut and paste. If I had to type it you can bet I wouldn’t of got past the second line.

  67. I guess I’m the only one who can’t get worked up about this. I don’t see it as wrong or even interesting.

    So the contents of his memo to the invisible sky wizard got leaked. Who cares?

  68. At least the prayer didn’t read, “Please god let me win this election so that I can rule the world.” or something equally messed up. :)

  69. Nargel #48: You can’t honestly believe journalists lean right to save their jobs! There has been a liberal bias in most major media news outlets for decades. Fox consciously made the decision to move to the right in an attempt to include the other half of the population. As a simple test, Google “Obama photos” in images and then Google “McCain photos.” Tell me which one has the goofy faces. It was even worse in 2004 with Bush and Kerry. Kerry was depicted the same way Obama is now: photo taken from below, arm outstretched pointing to the future, face pensive with a far-off look as if seeing the future, etc. The GOP guy: goofy look on the face, hands gestures that are unreadable, behind an oversized podium to make him look smaller, etc.

    Spare me the Pravda reference. You should see the news agencies genuflecting to Obama from my POV. Quite sickening. When were your rights taken away by the GOP? I see the Dems likely to take more of our rights away than ever was threatened by the other side.

    Nargel #52: Damn it, I have to agree with you.

    TM #53: Pious grandstanding doesn’t have a political affliation. And about the Christian Right: they bother me as much or more than the left-wing socialist-leaning Dem leadership today. Don’t assume all of the GOP is with the Christian Right. McCain doesn’t appear to suck up to right-wing preachers to get their endorsements. Not like Obama did for his left-wing racist preacher/spiritual advisor.

    Thanks, Myzelf.

    Paul, I’m glad you see it for what it is. I’ve been accused of blindly, even reverently, voting for Bush. I am forced to vote for the lesser of two evils – and I won’t vote for a Democrat. Okay, that’s wrong. I would vote for a Democrat if someone like Pat Robertson or a Falwell was the GOP candidate. I pray that never happens.

    I guess I am choosing not to think of this prayer debaucle as an Obama ruse. The idea might fester and sputter under my cranium for a while, but I still won’t vote for him, so it doesn’t matter. There are plenty of other things he says and does that are ignored by the press to keep me busy. Hell, I have some great signs I want to put on my truck but I’m afraid someone will key it or break a window.

  70. Ma’ariv is now saying that a member of Senator Obama’s campaign staff gave a copy of the prayer to Maariv – no one took the prayer out of the Wall. Another paper said they also got a copy but decided not to publish (but they didn’t say who gave them the copy, an Obama staffer or someone else).

    So we don’t know what the truth is – I hope there will be a further investigation.

  71. Beyond wrong. I still remember going to Israel in 1979 and carrying a prayer my grandmother wanted me to place at the wall for her. I never even considered looking at it. I can’t say this surprises me but it is truly horrible and from my perspective as a Jew (although I really should just say as a human) it’s a desecration.

  72. Katie@79:

    Possible, but it sounds like ex post facto ass covering – they knew that Wall prayers are sacrosanct, so they were in the wrong regardless of who gave it to them… And if it was an Obama staffer, why did they first try to claim it was a religious scholar?

    Another explanation would be that someone was hoping it would contain some useful dirt that would stick even despite the outrage over the violation, and now that it’s blowing up in their face because nobody cares about the message they’re trying to insinuate that Obama’s people callously engineered the entire thing as a reverse smear attempt…

    … Hey, wait a minute…

  73. Pat Smythe @ 78

    It is the editors not the reporters that set what gets printed and what is the slant. The owner still tells them what the general take should be.

    Pravda it is. I notice that you ignored the flat-out statements by Scotty that Fox knowingly and willfully pushes the white house talking points of the day. They didn’t even have to be paid off like Williams did. You want to talk pictures? Fine, let’s talk about deliberate photoshopping of pictures of people they disagree with.

    The fact that McCain is not photogenic is not my fault nor is his consistant record of lies, inaccuracies, and flipflops.

    When have my rights been removed or abused by the GOP? I don’t have to nor do I want to threadjack with the many, many instances of that. I will state one.

    Self admitted, mass, warrentless wiretapping that was ongoing long (matter of record) before 9/11.

    Not only illegal but unconstitutional.

  74. Were I Obama, I would have been very tempted to place a note reading “Lord God, forgive me for the terrible wrong I did in [say] Bismarck, ND, back in August 1991” and then watch and laugh as the entire right-wing press descended on Bismarck in search of this hidden crime…

  75. As a simple test, Google “Obama photos” in images and then Google “McCain photos.” Tell me which one has the goofy faces. It was even worse in 2004 with Bush and Kerry. Kerry was depicted the same way Obama is now: photo taken from below, arm outstretched pointing to the future, face pensive with a far-off look as if seeing the future, etc. The GOP guy: goofy look on the face, hands gestures that are unreadable, behind an oversized podium to make him look smaller, etc.

    In their defense, the GOP guy in 2004 did look, well, sort of… goofy.

  76. ajay #84: Wait! That’s not what I meant to…..well….. uh… LOL

    Nargel, remember Clinton and the 1000 FBI files in his White House? Let’s agree to disagree. Futile to convince you that wiretapping is a not GOP construct.

  77. Incredible wrong and yet unfortunately not surprising that the paper printed it. The rabbinical student should be expelled. This not someone I want as I spiritual leader, teacher, counselor.

  78. So very not wrong at all.

    Everyone is worked up over people reading/publishing something a political candidate wrote down and left laying in public? Any candidate for president has to expect that EVERYTHING is open for public consumption. I didn’t read the published version of the prayer, but only because it’s uninteresting to me, personally.

    Is anyone harmed by this action? Not that I can see. It’s just something else for busybodies to pay attention to, with the added bonus of being able to feel morally superior to the prayer-grabber and the AP.

  79. There is another update regarding this prayer via Instapundit. The paper that printed the prayer note claims that the Obama campaign leaked the note to reporters prior to it being placed in the Western Wall.

    Also, apparently the most popular daily in Israel also received a copy of the note.

    If this is true, obviously the campaign either wanted it published or was taking steps in case someone would pull the note, alter it, and then claim that is what Obama wrote. I personally think the campaign wanted it published.

  80. I’ll believe that when there’s confirmation from the Obama camp, personally.

  81. Pat Smythe @ 85

    “bu bu bu but Clinton . . . .”

    Don’t insult my intelligence or put words in my mouth.

    Echelon, Carnivore, TIA, the current 7 1/2 year prying by the most secretive Administration in US history – difference in degree

    yeh, I agree I’ll have to agree to disagree. THis is not getting us anywhere.

    And I have my issues with Clinton as well. They just pale in comparison.

  82. All right. I apologize for the “but Clinton” bit.

    It does seem, however, that the last line for any GOP apologist is always “But Clinton did something like that too (If you squint real hard and wave your hands a lot).

    Cheeses me off.

  83. John,

    I doubt the Obama campaign is going to say anything one way or another, so we will be left with no final confirmation of whether the campaign released it themselves or if the paper is trying to CTA with their customers.

    If the only source for publication came from taking the note from the wall, I agree that is wrong.

  84. Nargel, that’s not my last line nor did it come out the way I intended. And I chose Clinton for the intrusion into others’ privacy. I can use a boat-load of other instances with a boat-load of other Dems. I simply want some objectivity. I am not an apologist for the GOP. I only want fairness in reporting. If someone in either party screws up, they should get the deserved consequences. I really don’t give a damn about too many politicians. I am a conservative for reasons other than blind faith in my candidate (which seems to explain at least some of Obama’s popularity). I am an atheist, an evolutionist, and a skeptic. I can easily come up with a list of comparable offenses between the GOP and the Dems and show what outrages the press when a Republican gets caught is waved off for a Dem. Like I said, I only want some even-handedness and I don’t see much of that coming from the Democratic party and you don’t see much coming from the GOP.

  85. John,

    Weird – when I first loaded the page, it only showed the first 82 comments. The one mentioning the Instapundit (actually TNR) story was #88.

    One other oddity – when I posted, WP gave me an error saying I had submitted a duplicate post.

    _Ian G_

  86. You might have been looking at a cached version of the page on your end, then, Ian. Also, if you accidentally double click the “submit comment” button, it’ll let you know about the attempted double post. I did it myself the other day.

  87. Pat Smythe @ 95

    You started this off by claiming that FOX was an example of the liberal press. When I showed you were in error, you stated that FOX was designed to be conservative.


    That was the last time you addressed any of my specific points rather than moving the goalposts of the discussion. That is classic GOP apologist tactics so don’t be suprised when it is observed to be such.

    As to your original point of “liberal bias”, I believe there was a report from George Mason University.

    “The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

    You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

    During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

    Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center. ”

    According to the playbook, I believe the next response will be something about the “liberal”ness of the university.

  88. Nargel, sorry about the Fox news mistake. I didn’t proofread my message well enough. Fox is conservative and I beleive they are the only one that is…..of the major news outlets anyway.

    I just read what I could on that G. Mason report (July 28) and I am not sure of the examples of positive and negative. I didn’t see any of the three examples as that positive or negative. The first one was a puff question and the other two were issue oriented and observed demographic information, respectively. That’s not negative; that’s what we should expect from the news agencies. The three examples were all of Obama, I guess since the report was specific about him.

    I’d have to look at the parameters of what the CMPA considers positive and negative. The numbers of reports is telling also. The Media Research Center is a conservative media watchdog and they say that the “Networks tilted 10-to-1 in favor of Obama’s world tour” compared to McCain’s recent overseas trip. Just the sheer volume diparity between the two candidates is an issue.

    Gotta go….their chaining me back to the lathe…..

  89. Pat @ 100

    Given that the actions and results of Obama’s trip were much better than McCain’s “shopping trip in Iraq” debacle, what would you expect?
    At least Obama doesn’t have to keep being reminded
    1) when the surge started
    2) that sunnies and sheas are different (and how)
    3) about elementary geography in his “area of expertise”
    4) much etc.

    And the so-called liberal media” is not only not calling him on these but in some instances are actively helping him cover them up. Re: CBS and it’s creative editing practices.

  90. John, good news. I was hoping it wasn’t true.

    Nargel, it seems there will always be irreconcilable differences between the right and the left. You see your’s through your filter and I have my own. I give. You won. I hope Obama loses the election….and hope the subsequent riots aren’t too bad.

  91. Pat Smythe, you keep trying to make this -even-.
    It is not. Lee Atwater and his political godson Karl Rove and their slash-n-burn political style are what created these “irreconcilable differences”. A party that is not about a perminent majority by: politicization of the justice department, or by installing political commisars in all the departments or by claiming their administration has never-before-asserted above-the-law powers and standing, might find it’s way to reconcilable differences.

    Before the neocons (Nixon, Reagon, Bush 1, Bush 2)
    took over the republican party, they had members that were able to be actually bipartison. This could in time return. Eventually.

    Personally, I wish you well. Politically, I wish every little slimy, secret of either (or all) party(s) was public record. Better yet, I wish all those who have been deliberately unaware of just what has been going on were made aware and required to think about it all. The Bush mantra of “Party over Country” is way too destructive for us all.

  92. Irreconcilable differences have always been there. It always boils down to how much each side is willing to move. IMO, the Dems are nasty when it comes to their opposition to the Reps.

    “A party that is not about a perminent majority by: politicization of the justice department, or by installing political commisars in all the departments or by claiming their administration has never-before-asserted above-the-law powers and standing, might find it’s way to reconcilable differences.”

    You’ve just described the Democratic Party. Bipartisanship from a Dems POV is not a Repub becoming enlightened to the left’s ideas. There must be compromise. Do you really think the Dems are giving the GOP much of a voice in Congress? Whoever has the majority controls the committees and everything else for that matter. Your assumptions above just don’t hold water.

    Those Presidents you named are not neocons. That’s a left-wing term for the GOP these days. Neocons were Dems who were nearer to the middle and watched the Democratic Party move. They moved toward the conservative side back in the 50s and 60s. We are not neocons.

    This “Party Over Country” is new to me. I guess I didn’t get the talking points. I follow the idea of party trumps person as in the upcoming election, but I’ve never had the sense of your megalomaniacal attribution to Bush.

    Now THERE’S something on which we can agree. Lay it on the table and I bet we would not see much difference between the slime of one party or the other.

  93. The question is rather: just what percentage is slime and how much of the leadership is slime.

    By the way, did you not know that Nixon was one of Prescot Bush’s proteges?

    The neocons were self-identified as such by at least the 90’s and incorporate the same people from the Nixon, Reagon/Bush and Bush 2 administrations. For example: Cheney, Rumsfelt, Feith, Pearl(sp), Wolfowitz, Adamson, Libby, whats-his-name Skeletor from Homeland Security and many others.

    Do you actually claim that the politization of the Justice Department, establishment of political guidance uber-officials and the establishment of President-as-Dictator policies is not the personal handiwork of the current administration? Feh.

    I have given you specific checkable examples of every point I’ve made here, you respond with general slurs and movement of the goalposts. This is not a debate, this is just reluctance to see reality. This has become a waste of my time. Good day to you.

  94. Nargel, if it’s so important to you that I follow you in this discussion, give me the links that prove your left-wing viewpoint. To say that “this is not a debate, this is just reluctance to see reality” makes me wonder why you assume I haven’t seen the light yet. Are you able to understand that I may see you as someone so far out there that you wait until these conspiracy theories catch up with your certainties? You’ve proven to me that the far left must honestly believe that conservatives have a treatable brain malady(not the first time I’ve heard that).

    You are intent to paste as much blame on the present administration and you act as if I should know that you are right. I don’t give a damn how right you think you are. And I don’t give a shit if you think I should have an innate knowledge of your debating rules. And I believe the time I’ve wasted in your day could have been better spent redecorating the niche you’ve carved into your elitist world.

  95. Pat Smythe, all of this has been out there for so long in the public discourse that I find it very hard to believe that any reasonably aware individual has no idea what is going on. What aren’t you aware of? Politicizing the Justice department? It is a little hard to condense hours of Congressional hearings from Cspan showing Alberto Gonsales responding to any substantive question with “I don’t remember” or Monica Goodling admitting that she hired, fired and promoted people in the Justice Department based on political and only political litmus tests (under orders from White House staffers). Hell, even the head of the damn GSA was giving powerpoint presentations on how they could/should run the department so as to help republicans win elections and hinder democrats and admitted that under oath.

    Or do you need me to give you a link so that you can understand what Carnivor or Total Information Awareness are. You’ve never heard of google? You have not asked me for a single link until now. I guess my mistake was in assuming that that indicated you understood what I was referencing.

    What else do you need me to show you before you understand I can back up every thing I referenced?

    Yes, I could go conspiracy theory if I wanted to but I have restricted myself to things I can prove not things I can reasonably assume.

  96. Sorry, everyone. And to you, Nargel. Being dismissed with a hand wave does that to me.

  97. Even if you agree it was wrong, it seems to me Scalzi hasn’t asked the most interesting question: Why are people curious about what Obama wrote? What were they hoping to see? — vanity, wingnuttery, spelling errors?

    To me, all of this curiosity is just as creepily theocratic as the followers of George W. Bush assuming he is a kind of Pontiff in addition to being President.

    Seems to me people have lost the ability to imagine their relationship to God without hierarchy, where people above them in the social order are also somehow between them and their God.

    Wasn’t the innovation of Protestantism and some diaspora Judaism, and the democratic forms of government that were revived with them, that the pyramid of the social order gets flattened when it comes to God? That we all get to enjoy the thin, heady air of a direct relationship with God whether we are a President or a dishwasher?

    People who have a strong personal relationship with God wouldn’t care what Obama wrote. Their faith, or their sense of equality, would overwhelm their curiosity.

    Seems like people, despite their claims to both, don’t have much of either. Or just have little imagination.

    For the record, I am an atheist and of course I read the prayer.

  98. Pat Smythe @ 109

    No problem, I let the frustration get to me and I shouldn’t have.

    Please understand this, I can back up everything I’ve said.
    Everything. Some might take a little time (like getting a link to Bush’s presidential order establishing the political commisars in all the Executive branches and departments) but they are out there and can be found. If you have a specific point you would like clarification on I will try to help you but you need to ASK not just change the ground of the conversation. I simply don’t have the time to keep finding links to every point that I assume is common knowledge (like Alberto Gonsales and Karl Rove resigning when the questions got too close or Scooter Libby being commuted like a Mafia thug taking the fall).

    Evan @ 110

    I imagine Martin Luther might have something to say as well. ;)

  99. Thanks, Nargel. I don’t have much time for that sort of thing anymore. I can also back my statements up. Someday, I’ll do some digging on yours. Beleive me, I won’t defend the indefensible. With 50 – 60 hour work weeks and college starting the day after Worldcon leaves town, I have other priorities for a while. Thanks for the back and forth. Another day, you’ll swing this way! Hah!

  100. Thank you Pat. (ironic that I am also a Pat)

    I’m an old fart and have been around long enough to see the things I talk about happening. I can talk about the political discourse changing, how and who, because I watched it change. Please do research my points, if you dig them out maybe you will find it easer to believe me.

    My dislike of McCain is not just recent, by the way. Since I moved back to the Phoenix area in ’91 he has been my Senator and I have been watching him very closely. Not too happy with what I’ve seen.

    Good luck in college, I gather it’s a whole different experience than when I went. ;)

  101. Thanks, Nargel. I am 30 years behind. I am 51 and probably going to be the oldest in the class. I am working on becoming an archaeologist for my retirement fun. Half way there now and starting downtown at the University of Colorado at Denver. Do you think I’ll have to self-censor what I say and do to ensure I maintain my 4.0??? Ha! I’ll enjoy it all anyway.

  102. I still got ya. :) I’m 54.

    Don’t self-censor. If you don’t discuss, you’ll never learn.
    (but you gotta remember to learn)

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