I recently sent a Facebook message to Mike Sage, the owner/editor of AmericaNeedsMitt.com. After a relatively brief follow-up discussion, Mr. Sage blocked me. I can no longer view his profile. However, I can view his website where Mr. Sage decided to disclose to the public the fact that I contacted him. He didn’t mention my name, but did mention “Romneycare for dummies” which is traceable to me.
Unfortunately, Mr. Sage blatantly mischaracterized the correspondence which took place between us.
So I would like to set the record straight for those who are interested. Below, you will find an image of the letter I sent, followed by further commentary from myself and responses to arguments Mr. Sage may attempt to make.
In deference to Mr. Sage’s privacy, I will not be posting the private messages which he sent to me. However, he is free to post them if he wishes. And he has my permission to likewise post the messages I sent him, on the condition that he post all of them, in the order they were sent, along with all his own messages, in order.
Mr. Sage and I share an interest in apologetics. However I have felt for some time that his tone is overly harsh toward people he disagrees with, and actually hurts the cause. I feel he has a lot of potential, but should learn how to reason with people instead of attacking and dismissing.
Over time, I have developed the sense that Mr. Sage wants to be a “sage” to the masses, which is an admirable goal, but also that he seems willing to take whatever he may find which could potentially aid his goal and incorporate it into himself as though it were his own. Ironically, he has disclosed that “Sage” is not his real last name but is a word chosen by him to represent himself, and this fact seems to lend some credence to my intuition.
The letter I sent to him explains why I felt the need to contact him. In brief, I viewed a preview of his book and noticed much similarity in our sections on amnesty (The section I wrote is available on the homepage of WhyRomney.com, a site I co-founded but have since turned over to a brother of mine). Only a few sections are available in the preview, and therefore I felt the fact I had problems with such a small sampling did not bode well for the rest of the book.
I contacted him in hopes of convincing him to make the information in his book available free to the public. If he was indeed using arguments which he had not personally devised but had “borrowed” without attribution or acknowledgement, and charging for them, I think that is unfair to people like myself, who devised many of the original arguments being used by others because we made them available to the public for free, thus they are now circulated around by people who are totally unaware of the original source of the argument.
I’m reminded of a story about Christopher Columbus (notice how this wikipedia article immediately addresses the “source of the story”). Apparently, Columbus was at a dinner party and several of the other guests were commenting on how unremarkable it was to sail across the ocean. Ships were routinely sailing back and forth. So it was easy to say that anyone could have done what Columbus did. So Columbus “challenged his critics to make an egg stand on its tip. After his challengers gave up, Columbus did it himself by tapping the egg on the table so as to flatten its tip.” Of course, after seeing him do it, anyone could then do it and say it is obvious.
Mr. Sage assures me he has many endnotes in his book. Of course, the distinction that matters is not how many sources he provides for objective facts listed in the book (articles cited do lend the appearance of credibility), but how many sources he credits with the ideas which are formed into arguments. Every time Mr. Sage makes an argument, is it an argument he originated himself? Compiling arguments which one has heard from other people and expressing them in one’s own words is entirely different than originating the arguments. Conservatives, of all people, should be expected to appreciate this.
The following are his amnesty section and my amnesty section (McCain-Kennedy):
Me: “Critics falsely charge that Mitt Romney supported McCain-Kennedy in 2005 … in an interview with the Boston Globe he explicitly refused to endorse it. Romney did say in the same interview that the bill was ‘reasonable,’ but the 2007 bill is very different from the 2005 bill; the provisions Romney most strongly objects to, like the z-visa, were not in the 2005 bill. Accordingly, his position did not change when he opposed the 2007 bill, but the bill itself had changed.”
Him: “… critics claim that Governor Romney supported … McCain-Kennedy … in 2005. However, in a Boston Globe interview … Romney explicitly refused to endorse the bill … he stated that there were parts of the bill which he thought might be reasonable. By … 2007, many new provisions had been added to the bill … Efforts to label Romney a “flip-flopper” for his stance on the constantly-evolving McCain-Kennedy bill should, at the very least, attempt to identify which version of the bill they are referring to.”
Notice the phrase “explicitly refused to endorse.” It’s not a word combination you hear every day, since it was a completely arbitrary choice of words on my part and reflects my unique style. In fact, the only Google results I’ve been able to find where those words are applied to Mitt Romney are from me – with others copying and pasting what I wrote (the first version was written in 2007 and has undergone some changes but that phrase remained). In one case, Newsmax quoted from me but erroneously attributed my words to Romney himself. This is not the first time WhyRomney.com has been mistaken for an official Romney website.
I could of course be wrong about the closeness of the similarities between Sage. It could be a coincidence. But the fact that Mr. Sage grossly misrepresented what I said to him does not make me inclined to believe anything else he says. It seems to me that he is avoiding the tough questions by mischaracterizing them and pretending that anyone who questions his right to take credit for others’ work is ego-driven and doesn’t care about the nation.
Further in his blog post, Mr. Sage says that someone is eventually going to get killed. I don’t know if he intends that as a veiled threat, or if he is trying to imply something else. But I find his reference to murder to be highly inappropriate, either as a threat or as a sign of troubled paranoia on his part. Here is an image of the disturbing statement he made:
My actual letter to Mr. Sage:
Now some preemptive questions for Mr. Sage:
1 – How does Mr. Sage reconcile his account of what I wrote with the actual letter?
2 – Upon learning of my accusation, was Mr. Sage’s first reaction to state that he had invented all his own arguments, or to tell me how many footnotes he used and to argue over the semantics of plagiarism and intellectual property [he and I know the answer to this]? My first reaction would have been to tell the accuser that I had spent many long hours inventing entirely new arguments and doing research which apparently had not been done before, and that all my arguments are my own original creation.
3 – Does Mr. Sage not realize that listing footnotes makes him a writer look good, but listing sources for arguments which the writer appears to be making himself only makes him look bad? Ergo, the existence of footnotes does not indicate absence of plagiarism.
4 – Does Mr. Sage realize that the “who, what, when, where, how and why” construction does not let him off the hook since we are discussing argument construction rather than report construction? In a report, discovering “who, what, when, where, how and why” is straightforward. An argument may contain a “who” etc. but is an entirely different matter.
5 – Does Mr. Sage honestly not realize that I didn’t criticize him for pointing out that there was an 85% Democratic legislature? That the problem is not with him pointing out a fact, but the way he used facts to construct argument?
6 – Does Mr. Sage realize that if he is going to defend his decision to charge money by arguing about how little money he is making from his book, he needs to list more than royalties? I was under the impression that he published the book himself, since he claims to own a publishing business. In such a case, it wouldn’t matter as much what he made in royalties as what his business made or is making, and what he is paying himself. If there is a wide discrepancy between what he is actually making on the book and what he is making in royalties, what would be the purpose of pointing out only how much he is making in royalties?
7 – Is Mr. Sage retired from the military and thus receiving a pension of about 80% what he was making while employed? (Relevant if he decides to release the full discussion)
8 – If Mr. Sage argues that this is about 4 paragraphs in a much larger book, is that not terribly misleading, since the preview of the book is all I saw and most of that is occupied with the introduction, preface, table of contents, etc?
9 – Why is Mr. Sage telling people he wants to sue me? What possible grounds could he have? I have publicly rebutted his false statements about me, and privately – to persons who expressed interest either favorably or negatively in what I was doing – explained some additional reasons why I don’t trust him.
10 – Why did Mr. Sage initiate contact with me without disclosing his true identity or making publicly available the link between the alias and the real identity, as required legally?
Personally, I believe Mr. Sage may be frustrated at being unable to explain why he lied about me, and any reference to legal action against me is the product of the same questionable mental process which caused him to claim that someone will be killed. I would warn every reader contacted by the alias ”Mike Sage” that they are in truth being contacted by a “Charles Michael Segaloff.”