That may be true, but it seems to me that positions that defend massive manipulation (not that this was your intent) never speak to the limits of what was considered photography vs. that which is possible today, but rather suggest that because the darkroom was used to it's full possibilities and the result was considered photographic the same measure can be applied to the full realm of digital manipulation. In other words I don't believe that which is possible is the measure of what is photographic, but rather I believe that which stays true to traditional possibilities via new methods is what keeps our work "photographic". It's not that I find manipulation dishonest or unfair, it's just in many cases, particulalry much of what is advised and discussed on this website, it isn't photography. It starts as that, yet ends up something quite different.
Since photography was concieved, the actual moment of exposure was always just the first step in the creative process.
In the film days photography represented say 90%+ of the input, these days the actual photographic activity can represent such a low percentage of the input that it actually, in my mind, moves the entire endevour outside of a photographic activity. Sure you may start with captured data, but after you change the water color, remove particulate, adjust hue, add sharpening, use the healing brush and clone tool,etc. is what you print or post on a website still a "photograph"?