Saturday, May 21, 2005

Miscellaneous Threads of Interest:

I was originally going to post these back in mid March but various circumstances sidelined that intention.

Media Bias Moments (Tim Graham)

The above bit touches on the prevarications of certain groups who do not know basic economics and also on the inconsistency of how the media handled "30 year old sexual fondling allegations" of a comedian more seriously than they did 20 year old rape allegations of a sitting president a few years ago.

Thoughts on the Recent Supreme Court Ruling on the Death Penalty (Kevin Tierney)

Kevin Tierney's observations about the perversions of law in our society mirror much of what I have said at this weblog for a long time...and also what Dr. Walter Williams said in a recent Rerum Novarum points to ponder thread.

Martin Luther: Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor (Peter F. Wiener)

The above work was written around the time of the Second World War by a German teacher who advanced the theory that "...the real roots of National Socialism go down to the reformer Martin Luther, who seems to me more of a political demagogue than a religious reformer, and whose teachings and sayings are the foundations on which later Germans built.” Some may say that this is not the most ecumenical thing to say but authentic ecumenism must be based on truth and Dr. Wiener's theory is worth consideration on the same grounds as any theory is.

The Catholic Luther: A Critical Reappraisal (David C Steinmetz)

The above thread is a different theory about Fr. Luther -not necessarily incongruent with the first but attempting to argue that "the theology of Martin Luther might in certain respects be continuous with ancient and medieval Catholic tradition" is one that many esteemed theologians have suggested in recent years.{1}

And to supplement those older threads, here are three of more recent vintage:

New York Times v. Janice Rogers Brown (Nat Hentoff)

In the above article, Mr. Hentoff notes a disagreement with the Democrats in their treatment of Judge Janice Rogers Brown. He takes them to task for framing her as being extremely hostile to laws intended to protect Americans' civil rights and civil liberties when in reality that position can only be sustained by being very selective with her court decisions. Mr. Hentoff is very straight forward about why he would have great difficulty voting for Justice Brown because of her strong support of Supreme Court decisions upholding the economic-priority rights of employers and corporations. Though he has a liberal bias, Mr. Hentoff has long given the impression of being a man of principle and he conforms to that perception again in the above article.

Why does the New York Times Insist on Calling Jihadists "Insurgents"? (Christopher Hitchens)

That is a question I have long asked in private conversations and occasionally on this weblog. I do not always agree with Christopher Hitchens -indeed often we disagree- but when he is on, he is right down Main Street. Here is an example of what I refer to:

The Bin Laden and Zarqawi organizations, and their co-thinkers in other countries, have gone to great pains to announce, on several occasions, that they will win because they love death, while their enemies are so soft and degenerate that they prefer life. Are we supposed to think that they were just boasting when they said this? Their actions demonstrate it every day, and there are burned-out school buses and clinics and hospitals to prove it, as well as mosques (the incineration of which one might think to be a better subject for Islamic protest than a possibly desecrated Quran, in a prison where every inmate is automatically issued with one.)

Basically, the whole article is worth reading. And finally, we have this article which was sent to me by a Rerum Novarum reader earlier today:

Are Liberals Begging For It? (Ronald Wieck)

In light of some of what I have dealt with in recent weeks at this weblog, the above article is very apropo. Here is the introductory paragraphs as a bit of a "tease" to get you to read the rest:

The rules of engagement governing the Tower of Babel that passes for political discourse nowadays trace their intellectual roots to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., although some of the original sophistication has been stripped away. Designed to minimize brainwork, they encourage competing ideologues to smash folding chairs over one another’s heads. The dramatis personae usually include a hero and a villain. The guy wearing the striped shirt is the referee. He’s lying on the mat pretending to be unconscious so that he won’t be able to notice any of the flagrant fouls. He is, of course, in on the fix.

In the world of politics, the ref works for the mainstream media, and is untrammeled by dress codes or outmoded notions of neutrality. The job requires looking in the other direction when the liberal hero engages in a little righteous eye-gouging or groin-kicking to give the conservative villain what’s coming to him.

At this juncture, it is customary to emit a ritualistic belch in the direction of moral equivalence, the non-thinking person’s misconception of fairness: both Right and Left are equally guilty of rhetorical sins, yadda, yadda. Only, it grows more apparent every day that the two sides are not equally guilty.

Positing something as a premise and then altering it slightly to form the conclusion, the part of the argument that should follow from what has been previously stated, is far more than an occasional tactic for liberals. It is a way of life. Formal logic provides a label for this fallacy: Begging the question. The acerbic and pessimistic German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in his essay, "The Art of Controversy:"

“It would be a very good thing if every trick could receive some short and obviously appropriate name, so that when a man used this or that particular trick, he could at once be reproached for it.”

Well, it would be a good thing for partisans of reason, a dying breed, but a bad thing for pols whose upward mobility depends on sleight of mouth.

As I noted earlier, this is a problem with those who argue emotionally and utilize fallacious forms of argumentation in advancing their positions. Nonetheless, I appreciate the reader who sent me the above link as it provides a complement in many respect to what I have been saying on these matters not only recently but at sundry times and in divers manners for years.


{1} Among them one of my personal favourites is Cardinal Avery Dulles who wrote on this in an article titled Two Languages of Salvation shortly after the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on Justification was signed by the Holy See and the Lutheran World Federation.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

On the Subject of Foundational Presuppositions - Following Up a Previous Prelude:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Regular readers of this humble weblog are aware that your host has at sundry times and in divers manners sought to involve one of his favourite Reformed sparring partners (from years past) in a friendly dialogue on the subject of foundational presuppositions. This intention was last manifested about a month ago only to be sidetracked by other circumstances. Nonetheless, as those have pretty much been dealt with as of this writing, it seems appropriate to again present this invitation to the friend in question and see if they are interested in this proposal. And in doing that, it seems appropriate to highlight what a true dialogue actually is.

It is unfortunately true that most of what passes for "dialogue" today is anything but the real thing. The French philosopher Jean Guitton outlined well what authentic dialogue consists of in a book he wrote about forty years ago. The following were among his observations:

To tell the truth, it is very difficult to carry on a dialogue: Many dialogues, even of Plato are fictitious, juxtapositions of monologues. Each stays as they were. This is so often what happens at assemblies and congresses. The true dialogue demands an effort which is continual and almost heroic, which consists first in trying to see from the other's viewpoint. Leibniz, that mind so open and elastic, said that the position of the other is the true viewpoint of politics and morals, and this going out of oneself to adopt --if only for a moment--the point of view of one's interlocutor he calls quite simply: love. [Jean Guitton: Dialogues of Paul VI With Jean Guitton pg. 163 (c. 1967) as quoted in I. Shawn McElhinney's Commentary on the Intricacies of Dialogue (c. 2003)]

And again:

The dialogue...supposes that one listens to the other, and in the divine sense of this word listen, as Jesus the child listened to the doctors, or the risen Christ listened to the pilgrims of Emmaus, or the man listens to Revelation, or God listens to man's prayer. Let yourself listen, I say, with the hope that the other's point of view will teach you something new, will complete your thought, or will allow you to expand it, to purify, subliminate, deepen it. An objector, contradictor, critic are unsuspecting aids, for in every objection there is a part of the truth, which allows us to better express what we think, to forestall confusion, to give relief and contour to our opinions. St. Thomas began by presenting what went against his thesis. He leaned on the obstacle, on the apparent negation he built his discreet affirmation, filtered, tested, simple, and sure. And Laecorde, in the same spirit, said: "I do not try to convince my adversary of error, but to join him in a higher truth." [Jean Guitton: Dialogues of Paul VI With Jean Guitton pg. 163 (c. 1967) as quoted in I. Shawn McElhinney's Commentary on the Intricacies of Dialogue (c. 2003)]

We at Rerum Novarum have always sought dialogue in accordance with the above principles;{1} albeit that intention has not always materialized unfortunately.{2} It is a weakness of humanity perhaps that explains why ideologues of various stripes lash out at those who disagree with them -and often venomously at that. We do not do the latter at Rerum Novarum but we do sometimes utilize forceful expressions admittedly. But enough on that point and onto the purpose of this request.

The reasons for such a request have been stated before on more than one occasion at this weblog. The following paragraph from the latter thread adequately summarizes Our reasoning on this matter:

I have noted publicly on many occasions the willingness to dialogue with you on foundational presuppositions that undergird the operative points of view from which we see the same subjects. There is no recourse to axioms in such a format - simply an examination of what goes into how you and I (and others of differing worldviews) view the evidences that we see from divers sources. That offer is still open should you want to take me up on it. For one who is critical of "axiomatic argumentation" this should be a subject that would be of interest to you... [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 21, 2004)]

Both the party in question as well as the present writer have a history of writing tome-length responses to one another. For that reason -and recognizing that the party in question has limited time{3} much as the present writer does- We have proposed a shorter format to be used with all exchanges being kept to a few paragraphs per. That way, it will be easier for both sides to listen to what the other is saying, comprehend their outlook on the issues in question, and hopefully have a mutually productive dialogue on the subject of foundational presuppositions.


{1} An unexpected witness to this manifested intention was noted in a comments box from another weblog where one of Our frequent dialogue partners noted the following about Us:

Shawn was more noted simply because after probably engaging him in dialogue more than almost anyone (especially from a traditionalist perspective) I can say Shawn makes great pains to be honest in those he fights against, even if he hates their guts.

Other than the part about "hating people's guts", the above statement accurately summarizes it. Often what can appear as hatred is either a passionate defense of ideas and principles or is forceful language directed at certain positions held by others. The general approach is to focus on issues and not personalities and sometimes certain issues are loathed but not the persons who hold to them.

{2} Some people are so unable to engage in this discipline that Our reserves of patience get used up and it bleeds into what is written. (Yes, the fault is sometimes with your humble servant for not having more patience. Fortunately this problem does not occur that often anymore...certainly not like it did say four or five years ago where such things happened with a much greater frequency.)

{3} And as the party in question is getting married within a month or so, they will have additional limits on their time; ergo the format of this proposed dialogue is intended to facilitate that situation.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(On Liberals and So-Called "Social Contracts" of Businesses)

Think about it: What the busybodies are saying is that third parties like themselves -- who are paying nothing to anybody -- should be determining how much somebody else should be paying those who work for them.

It would be devastating to the egos of the intelligentsia to realize, much less admit, that businesses have done more to reduce poverty than all the intellectuals put together. Ultimately it is only wealth that can reduce poverty and most of the intelligentsia have no interest whatever in finding out what actions and policies increase the national wealth.

They certainly don't feel any "obligation" to learn economics, out of a sense of "social responsibility," much less because of any "social contract" requiring them to know what they are talking about before spouting off with self-righteous rhetoric. [Thomas Sowell: From The Latest Liberal Crusade (circa May 12, 2005)]


"You'll Not See A Blog Like the Migh-ty Barr-i-ster" Dept.

As The Mighty Barrister has returned to blogging after a self-imposed exile, We have recategorized his weblog in perpetuity from the On Haitus classification back to active status.

All things to the contrary notwithstanding.


Miscellaneous Threads of Interest:
(Some Rerum Novarum Political, Social, Religious, and Cultural Tidbits)

These links will range from the very serious to the very silly. But without further ado, let Us get to them...

Revealed: how an abortion puts the next baby at risk

The above thread cites some French studies that point to a significant probability of "dangerously early births" with subsequent children of a woman who has had an abortion. For those in Palm Beach County, Florida this is yet more evidences of how abortions (however they are done) are not as "safe" as those in the abortion racket who would claim to promote legal abortion as a "choice" would claim that they are.

A Decision is Reached

In noting the above link, it must be confessed that your host has been profoundly tardy in adding the weblog of The Pontificator to the scroll here at Rerum Novarum. He has long been one of Our top three favourite Anglicans if you will{1} but as of July 1, 2005 he will be entering into full communion with the one, holy, catholic, apostolic, and roman Church.{2} To quote him briefly from the above link:

During the next week or two, I will be writing a couple of articles for Pontifications stating the reasons for my decision. It is not clear to me if I will continue to blog after that.

“A convert comes to learn,” Newman wrote, “and not to pick and choose.” It is now time for me to withdraw from the lists of controversy, enter into a spiritual posture of learning and docility, and submit my mind, heart, and soul to the teaching of our Lord through the Magisterium of his Church. It is time for me to abandon the private judgment of my Anglicanism and be reformed by the Catholic Faith in all of its fullness. As Newman wrote to Henry Maskell: “You must come to the Catholic Church to learn, to take on faith, her mode and peculiarities of worship, her ideas of devotion, etc. as well as her doctrine.” This is now the task before me.

Fr. Alvin's resolve here is admirable but he suffers from the deficiency of being an intelligent person. Questions will likely arise from this decision and a forum of sorts for casual and cordial discussion seemed appropriate to establish. For that reason (and as one who plays certain hunches in these circumstances), We took the opportunity of this announcement to start another weblog project to potentially facilitate Fr. Alvin in his transition. Over the next few days, it remains to be determined if this will be a solo effort or a possible group one (and if that weblog will have comments boxes or not). In the meantime, We at Rerum Novarum welcome Fr. Alvin and offer him Our prayers and support.

Moving from the serious to the geopolitical{3} there is this article from NewsMax:

Administration Imposing New Limits on Chinese Clothing

While We have never been a fan of so-called "free trade";{4} nonetheless, what has not been mentioned as frequently is Our view of utilizing "most favoured trade status" on China. Since the Chinese military crushed student lobbyists for democracy in Tiananmen Square back in 1989, We have opposed granting a favourable trade status with China. For that reason, the above restrictions --while not in Our view adequate enough-- are nonetheless a welcome step in the right direction. But enough on that subject for now.

Moving from the geopolitical to the reflective, there is the following article of interest:

Padded Pews

Daniel Nichols (a Byzantine Catholic) posts a thread on the absurdities with which many parishes go to try and make parishoners comfortable. He quite clearly does not like pews to begin with and for historical reasons: they were alien to the pre-"reformation" Churches East and West. Traditional worship in Christian Churches prior to the sixteenth century was standing...though not a few who call themselves "traditionalists" today use the very unTraditional kneeling posture for most of their liturgies.

Moving from the reflective to the light-hearted, there is this quiz which was of interest to the present writer:

The Yankee or Dixie Quiz

In taking the quiz, We scored a 66% (Dixie) and this was declared by the quiz A definitive Southern score! Not bad considering that Our relatives during the War Between the States fought for the West ;-)

And moving from the light-hearted to the hilarious, is the most recent parody from JibJab which can be watched HERE. Be warned though, the humour in the latter thread is Jewish related{5} and those who are easily offended should avoid it.

And from the hilarious to the downright absurd, it seemed appropriate to supplement the results from the If I were a Star Wars character, I would be? quiz (where the answer was Han Solo) and the What Star Wars Personality Am I? test (where the answer was Lando Calrissian) with a quiz on what the Star Wars Name and Title of your weblog host would be. The results of that quiz read as follows:

Your Star Wars Name and Title

Your Star Wars Name: Ivamc Kaedm

Your Star Wars Title: Yenpea of Anaid

We are not sure what the above says about Us but (for some reason) there is actually a motivation to see the new Star Wars movie. The two recent installments did not interest Us much (indeed We did not even seen them) probably because compared to the previous three, they seemed from the previews to be too contrived and not sufficiently creative enough. (A position sustained by many who reviewed the movies afterward.) But there is something about the last movie (or third in sequence if you want to get technical) which is different...not sure what it is but if it is discerned, it may be mentioned on this weblog later on.


{1} After two fellows We used to dialogue with over at Steve Ray's old board before the Novus Boardo format was imposed a few years ago. One of those persons (Edwin Tait) started a weblog about eight months ago (of which this writer was alerted to about four months ago) and that weblog will be added in the next update to Rerum Novarum provided that your host does not forget to do it as happened with the last update.

{2} For reasons We have discussed before, this is the proper name for the one Church of Christ, not "Catholic Church" and certainly not "Roman Catholic." (The term "Catholic Church" is a convenient shorthand but it does not express the totality of the mystery the way "one, holy, catholic, apostolic, and roman Church" does.)

{3} This is not to say that the geopolitical is not serious of course...only that (today) it is a less serious subject on the part of your weblog host to deal with.

{4} [Both political parties] promote (to name one example of several) that boondoggle called "free trade" which is a wonderful academic theory that does not work in reality. I challenged three teachers in my international political economy class in college to name for me these countries that built themselves into powerful and industrious nations using the free trade that two of the three were so avidly promoting. And every example they raised I was able to easily shoot down.[...] Despite their failure to cite supporting evidences for this theory, they still shilled for the idea though. Talk about a classic example of economic solipsism in a nutshell!!!...

...My opposition was not as much to NAFTA in theory (which sounds good I admit) as what I knew it would result in where the rubber meets the road: indeed I predicted what has come to pass before NAFTA was even implemented. History was my teacher here and those who shilled for NAFTA (including some of my college business and law professors) chose to ignore Santayana's dictum and not listen to what the instructor of history reveals. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa November 11, 2004)]

{5} Lest anyone unfamiliar with their work wonder, the guys at JibJab are equal opportunity lampooners.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Frequent readers of Rerum Novarum are aware that your weblog host was the first public commentator to openly pull for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's election as pope. We also took that occasion to outline various reasons why this choice would be opportune for the Church at the present time.{1} About all that was missed was the name selection but that is a minor bagetelle in the grand scheme of things...or so it may seem on the surface.

It has been said before that it is "all in the branding" so the selection of Pope Benedict XVI by the former German cardinal may be the most revealing thing about the man himself. Admittedly, your host did not consider what is noted HERE as part of his papal criteria...mainly because it was not known to Us how much Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) loves his beer!!! But it all fits the pattern that We have traced out since the election of Benedict XVI last month. Consider the following:

---Being a fan of Benedictine spirituality

---Choosing the name of Benedict

---The apparent desire of His Holiness to really focus on the sacred liturgy{2} in his pontificate

These pointers tell Us many things. For one thing, it really highlights the possible connections between Pope Benedict XVI and the so-called "Glory of the Olive" prediction of St. Malachy. Indeed, that prediction{3} seems to be tying together rather nicely with the very human revelation of His Holiness' love of beer. And as We have been lovers of foreign brews for many years,{4} this personal tidbit about the new pope is quite pleasing to Us to say the least. May it give new impetus to the various Theology on Tap ministries...


{1} Some readers of this weblog are aware that the material in the posting of April 14, 2005 was actually written eleven days prior to its posting in the form of two email circulars.

{2} Some of this was dealt with in an earlier audiopost to this very weblog:

Miscellaneous Morning Notes on the Conclave and the Selection of a New Pope (circa April 20, 2005)

{3} The Benedictines have generally claimed in recent centuries that the "Glory of the Olive" pope would be from their order. While not a Benedictine, Cardinal Ratzinger nonetheless did have a close connection to them. And yes (for those who are wondering) this writer is aware that there is question as to how accurate the so-called "prophecies of Malachy" really were. (As some of the assertions of later interpolations are not without at least a bit of crediblity to them.)

{4} And yes, though it did not get much coverage in 2004 (due mainly to your host barely imbibing to keep caloric intake down), Our appreciation for beer and other spirits has been noted on more than a few occasions (to briefly recall several of them in this note).

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Responding to a Rationally Challenged So-Called "Progressivist":

The post you are about to read was written in response to a recent screed that was emailed to the present writer. The intention of posting it with a response is to provide an interpretative hermeneutic to aid the reader. Often one finds themselves dealing with various kinds of hyper-emotional and illogical shrieking which masquerades as either an "argument" or as a "principled position." (A pattern that is present at various and sundry websites and in other mediums of communication.) The names mentioned in the piece (as well as the author of said work) will be changed to protect the guilty and their words will be in black font. Any sources referenced will be in darkblue font.

[...] "Just" War.. My Foot

Of course determining whether or not any war is just depends on how the criteria is applied. Intelligent readers of this weblog are aware that there are various ways of doing this with the conflict in Iraq much as with any other war. But enough on that point and onto the meat of this screed we go...

I have yet to see anywhere in the Gospels where Jesus okayed men to war upon others -- most especially pre-emptively -- as if there could be such a word in Jesus' vocabulary! -- especially based on fabricated data, and I pray it was not deliberately fabricated.

It seems appropriate to note the various argumentation fallacies that permeate this text -some of which We have covered before and others which We may cover in the future in greater detail. Nonetheless, this writer starts off the cataloguing of logical fallacies with what is called the questionable premise -in this case the idea that there was "fabricated data" involved in justifying the military intervention in Iraq. This whole premise is questionable and (for that reason) building an argument on it is unconvincing because if you collapse the premise, you destroy the veracity of the argument. So let Us do that before moving onto other problems with the writing of this so-called "progressivist" Catholic.

First of all, there were many reasons which were (or could have been) advanced for justifying military intervention in Iraq. The most popular was that there were WMD's but your humble servant at Rerum Novarum never made that anything but a peripheral issue at best in his argument for utilizing the military option in Iraq.

The idea that there was only one reason for this endeavour highlights the facile "reasoning" which permeates the pro-terror contingent. Furthermore, the implication that there is only one way to advance an argument for military involvement in Iraq is an example of what is called strawman argumentation (Which is another logically fallacious way of argument.) But as the WMD argument was the one most frequently utilized by many parties who supported the military option in Iraq, it helps to remind those with short attention spans exactly why.

To start with, the readers are reminded that there was a consensus by members of both American political parties that there were WMD's in Iraq. This weblog dealt with that issue late in the 2004 political campaign (when Senator John Kerry was trying to have it both ways on this issue) in the following posts:

On Democrat Lies and WMD's (circa August 4, 2004)

On Democrat Lies and WMD's Redux (circa August 5, 2004)

There is also the undeniable fact that virtually everyone who had monitored Saddam Hussein’s activities since the first Persian Gulf War (notably, the United Nations, the French, German and Russian intelligence services, the U.S. Congress, most of the Democratic presidential contenders, etc.), had concluded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was seeking to increase their numbers and lethal capabilities.{1} Let us consider these facts in light if what this pro-terrorist (by logical extension) ideologue is seeking to assert.

As (i) they are asserting that the evidences were fabricated and (ii) virtually everyone who had monitored Saddam Hussein’s activities since the first Persian Gulf War...had concluded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was seeking to increase their numbers and lethal capabilities, the only thing one can conclude who tries to advance the "fabrication" argument is that (iii) everyone was in on it -both those who did not want the United States to utilize the military option (including France, Germany, and Russia) as well as those who did.

Hopefully it is evident to those with a normal intact functioning brain why the latter assertion would be absurd on its face. But knowing how illogical and prone to blind emotionalism that these kinds of people can be, it would not surprise Us if they asserted precisely that and then grandstanded as if they had made a "compelling argument" for their ideological agenda.

Do American Catholic warhawks and confusees think there will be a special section of heaven for Americanites who "had to" kill so many, so often?

As it is already quite evident, the only "confusees" are those who mimic this person's party line. But when such things as facts and such tools as logic and reason are so ignored,{2} a state of confusion is the inexorable result unfortunately. But there is more to this than just that and it includes theological matters.

The ideologue made comments about Jesus not approving of war in the New Testament. But there is more to Revelation than just the New Testament. If this person claims to be Christian (in this case, a Catholic) and they want to avoid splitting the Godhead, then it is impossible to deny that God (of which Jesus was) sanctioned war and even fought for certain nations at certain times. Or is this person's religion one that accepts the New Testament only and not the Old Testament??? (Read: Marcionism.)

As far as whether or not Jesus "approved of pre-emptive war", there is another fallacy of argumentation here. This person is trying to retroject certain present realities and circumstances into the past where they did not apply (for various reasons). That is the logical fallacy of anachronism in a nutshell.

How dare anyone sanction the utter incineration of humans and their lands in the name of Christian decency or goodness when it is not an absolutely necessary and unavoidable conflict, whether that sanctioner be George Bush, George Weigel, Frank Pavone or the hierarchy.

The argumentation fallacy of questionable premise applies to the above statement. Besides, I am wondering if this person will take their wrath out on God for demanding that Saul kill every inhabitant of Amalek -even women, children, and animals...probably not since their "religion" apparently has one testament only.

War is never more noble than abortion -- it is abortion with incendiaries in place of scalpels.

This is the very blurring of distinctions that was mentioned more than once in recent weeks at this very weblog with regards to another party that shall not be named. Since that same party has apparently posted this screed to their website, it can properly be seen as at least a tacit approval of this methodology. Furthermore, it is at least a tacit confirmation of one of the present writer's assertions all along for those who followed that unfortunate episode.

Ask any metal-armed 14-yr. old named Ali who lost all the skin on his torso as well as having his arms burned to the bone..his hands literally burned off.

No one denies that there are tragedies in war...but this person should ask those who were massacred by Hussein and his hitmen over the decades...oh wait...dead people cannot talk. And (of course) this kind of appeal to blind emotionalism is the hallmark of those who are incapable of making solid arguments. It is in fact a textbook example of the epistemological fallacy of solipsism.

He's probably sterile as well, too. AND orphaned. (But he got the t-shirt. Which team was it--I forgot. He probably will, too.)

See this writer's previous comments.

Unconscionable-- by any nation. This was no war, this was and is some massive evil new holocaust behind which Satan is howling in glee -- to be stealing little children's faces as well as soldiers' limbs.. to be slaughtering whole families at checkpoints upon orders (or was it? Seems total fear = total violence. We're allowed total fear reactions, but the insurgents are not, they are evil?)

Yet again, this is solipsistic argumentation. And (of course) there is also the fallacy of questionable premises again: where is this person getting their "facts" for the above statements??? This writer would guess that it is the same unreliable kook sources that certain friends of theirs use.

The beast has raged out of control, and we're feeding him day in and day out. God help us.

See this writer's comments from three responses up about blind emotionalism.

How do so many miss all of what Christ Himself said fulfilled the Law? "You have heard it said an eye for an eye... but I say..." (What are we up to now -- 200 eyes for one eye? And on their turf, to which we were not invited, asked, or welcomed.)

For all the pretentions that these sorts of people have for "international law", they show themselves to be frauds when they allow someone to violate it so egregiously for years and years. (Read: Saddam Hussein.) As far as whether we were "invited" or not, probably a large reason there was not more enthusiasm after the ouster of Hussein{3} was an awareness on their part that America has had a tendency of not seeing these sorts of things through in recent decades: the very sort of cowardice that people like this pro-terror person lauds and which the radical anti-western Muslim terrorists love to see.

Getting back to the subject of American lack of resolve, a classic example is how we cut and ran after the 1991 war. Whatever arguments one wants to make about the merits or demerits of that action, it nonetheless appeared to many that we did not have long term resolve. More could be noted on this matter but that
suffices for now...except to note that those who were raped and tortured under Hussein's regime are probably not unhappy that we arrived. Apparently people like the ideologue we are addressing here would prefer that those people be left in their rapists, torturers, and murderers.

Do we honestly believe God falls for the anti-Saddam spin, too?

To turn this kind of "argument" on these sorts of people:

---Do we honestly believe God fell for the anti-Hitler spin too???

---Do we honestly believe God fell for the anti-Stalin spin too???

---Do we honestly believe God fell for the anti-Pol Pot spin too???

---Do we honestly believe God fell for the anti-Amin spin too???

---Do we honestly believe God fell for the anti-Mao spin too???

---Do we honestly believe God fell for the anti-Sandinista spin too???

Etc etc etc...

What about when He asks what's our criteria, Catholics? Different from Christ's? Our criteria is above Christ's, apparently, which is why the Holy Fathers have to shout at us.

The role of the popes in situations such as this is to recall people to conscience for the tragedies that war bring upon humanity. It is imperative in these situations to have those with moral authority who can do this -in no small part because every war has its excesses even on the side of those who are in the right. Virtually no one likes war (certainly not this writer) but sometimes it is necessary to eradicate greater evils. If this ideologue was aware of that moral and ethical principle, it would solve a lot of their problems.{4}

There was one day we were under attack. That day happened over three years ago. One day of a one-hour attack vs 1500 days' super-retribution on our part..

It is called destroying the networks that enable Al Queda terrorist sorts to launch those kinds of attacks. Or (to use an insect analogy), if you have hornets getting into your house and stinging you (from nests built in your attic) you either deal with them one at a time or you go after the nest. The ideologue who wrote the screed we are looking at is apparently too dense to realize that these people are not going to stop and will not be appeased. We tried appeasing them for decades and every time they were able to strike us, they did so. Simple "whack-a-mole" logic should dictate that if appeasing them gets us whacked that we should not stick our head out of the hole of appeasement to continue to get it whacked. DUH!!!

But we could turn this on our shrieking ideologue and note that one day of a couple hours attack on Pearl Harbour resulted in over a thousand days of war on Japan and Germany. We went to war against Germany even though Japan attacked us -the reason being that the two nations were allied and Germany declared war on us after Japan attacked. Likewise, even though Al Queda was primarily in Afghanistan, all the intelligence we had pointed to an alliance between Al Queda and Saddam Hussein. The former had already proven they could attack us on our home soil, we did not need the latter giving them more potent means of doing so again...means which (it bears reminding) that all nations monitoring the Middle East believed that Saddam Hussein possessed.{5}

Now yes, it can be argued that the intelligence was faulty whhich guided some of the previous judgments. But that cannot be the basis for arguing against those judgmetns without falling prey to the logical fallacy of argumentation by anachronism. The question is not judging what was done in 2003 from what we know in 2005 but instead judging what was done in 2003 by what was known (or believed to be known) in 2003.

As far as 1500 days super retribution go, it has not been two years yet which is about 730 days not 1500. This ideologue needs not only lessons in logic and reason but also in elementary math.

3,000 deaths of innocents vs 100,000 deaths of innocents --and counting.

This person had better substantiate this assertion from credible sources rather than merely assert it as self-evident. From everything this writer has been able to discern, it is a bogus number unsupported by any credible evidence whatsoever. If true (which seems probable), that would point to another logical fallacy -that of provincialism.

That's just in one country. Can we imagine the present horror.. or what is to come from it all? We can't even imagine doing without clean water, electricity, hospitals and aerable lands -- let alone doing without spouses, children, and hope.

Is this person nuts??? There is a HELL of a lot more reason for hope in Iraq now than there ever was under Hussein and his minions. The Iraqis can now say what they like -even that they do not like the presence of the Americans- and not be tortured or killed for it. If they had tried that sort of thing under Hussein's regime, what would their fate have been??? It sure would not be what it is now. Apparently people like this illogical ideologue like having the freedom to shoot their mouths off irresponsibly in America but wish to deny it to people in other nations. Typical.

This 'war' isn't to protect America -- that day came and America wasn't protected, but that's not something one can do in retrospect.

Part of the reason for this war (albeit not the only reason for it) is to fight the terrorists on foreign soil rather than on American soil. When are these kinds of ideologues going to pull their heads out and face reality. History tells us that Islam is a religion that was spread by the sword. While arguably most Muslims today would not accept this approach, there are still a solid core of fanatics who are not going to quit coming after us until we are either converted or killed. And unlike Hitler or Stalin, they are motitivated by religion rather than mere acquisition of power. For that reason, we either sit back and let them come after us here or we take the fight to them. It is tragic and unfortunate this is true but it is reality: they either want us in headscarves or headless. And you cannot "reason" with people who approach reality that way -however nice the idea is in the ivory halls of abstract argumentation.

Meanwhile, we were urged to lean on duct tape and plastic for defense.

This is pretty rich coming from the "fund education with federal money and make the army hold a bake sale to buy a bomber" crowd. Such people have no grounds for credible complaints about weaknesses in national defense prior to 9/11 or even today.

This 'war' is not for the American people at all, it has nothing at all to do with our defense or freedom or protection. Nothing. That's been proven.

The logical fallacy of questionable premise permeates the above statement. Furthermore, the assertion has not been "proven" at all. As this writer noted already, taking out the terrorist cells in the Middle east provides us with a hell of a lot more protection than allowing them to develop and formulate more plans to attack us. This is common sense but then again, common sense is the last thing that permeates the screed of the ideologue we are considering at the present time.{6}

And when it changed criteria in mid-stream "to free the Iraqis", we should've asked, "From what? Their bones, their children, their futures?"

This ideologue is engaging in a simplistic lumping of everyone into one single "position" or "argument." For the record, your humble servant never once "chagned criterion mid-stream" nor did a number of others (including Greg Mockeridge, Christopher Blosser, and Dave Armstrong). It was not necessary to do so first of all and secondly, there was usually multiple reasons for taking a position for military involvement in Iraq. Those who had several reasons who chose (for tactical or practical reasons) to emphasize different reasons at different times were hardly being disingenuous about it. Principled positions are usually complex ones and are not done justice by this kind of caricature. Another logical fallacy that this ideologue commits over and over again is the strawman fallacy.

Furthermore, does this ideologue HONESTLY think that the Iraqis are not (on the whole) better off now than they were under Hussein??? Let us see, they are not raped and tortured (or killed) for expressing different opinions than those which kissed Hussein's ass. Do they really believe they could get away in pre-May 2003 Iraq with what they get away with here??? They can be lambasted for idiocy, even roundly confuted as this writer is presently doing. But no one would presume to have them tortured, raped, or killed for expressing a differing opinion -even one with the obvious malformed nature as the one they expressed. And does this person honestly think that in Iraq life on the whole was better under Hussein than it is now??? This whole premise is ludicrous to the nth degree.

How dare anyone not demand that ur people come home tomorrow, and let Iraq and Afghanistan rebuild (with he world's help, please, God) and try to unpoison their lands.

Great, let us leave them vulnerable to the next wave of seditionists who seek to enslave them under the false pretense of providing "security." Quite a "compassionate" move that would be...but sadly it is typical for these kinds of ideologues. They prefer engaging in tokenism rather than anything that has actual substance to it. The reader should also take note that tokenism is another fallacious form of argumentation.

War is always a failure for mankind."

Cowardice and failure to stand up to evil is no less a failure. Indeed it arguably is much worse.{7} If the Christians has taken this ideologues advice between the seventh and seventeenth centuries, what would be the reality of today??? Simple: Islam would have overrun Europe and destroyed civilization as we have known it{8} and this whining ideologue would be in a headscarf today or be headless. The only "failure" of war is that sometimes it is the only way evil can be defeated. There is certainly a "failure" when humanity cannot find a more equitable ways of resolving disputes. It is unfortunate but it is reality nonetheless -however unsavoury- and reality is often not what such ideologues want to face up to.

How dare anyone calling themselves Catholic beat their chests and cry, "God bless America" and then slam Catholic peacemakers as unpatriotic.

More like "Catholic appeasers" and seditionists. People like this ideologue can take their place beside the Neville Chamberlains of the past in history's hall of shame. Meanwhile, those of us who actually know history do not want to see it repeat itself again.

When any one of these 'more honorable' Catholics (while they righteously await the next American execution) can do that while beholding an olive-skinned baby with blood streaming from her shrapnel-sliced eyes, let me know.

Again, the inability to distinguish between moral matters is evident. And since certain parties critical of this writer and his friends have posted this drivel to their website, they guilty of promoting the very obfuscation that the present writer (and Greg Mockeridge) accused them of earlier in the month.

I want to be far away so I won't hear the useless, "Unfortunate but necessary" and "It's them or us" buzz-- right after their "War is hell" shrug.

This is typical illogical drivel from the pro-terrorist contingent of modern seditionists.{9} In the case of this particular ideologue, hopefully they will go far away...perhaps to Iraq under the pretense of being a "human shield." At the very least that kind of tokenism would have more weight than the illogical verbal vomit that has passed for an "informed commentary" and to which certain parties who shall remain nameless apparently think (to their own discredit) is quality work worth promoting. Pardon those of Us who think otherwise and see such fallacy-laden screeds{10} as only worth papering a catbox with at best (if even that). It is truly unfortunate that there is a lack of quality writing espousing a position against the Iraq military involvement which is (i) intelligently written, (ii) logical and reasonable in its arguments, and as a result of the latter (iii) a compelling piece to ponder. Oh well, hope springs eternal so they say...


{1} See Making Saddam's Day By Frank J Gaffney Jr. (circa July 15, 2003)

{2} The applicable argumentation fallacy here is that of suppressed evidence. There is a reason why in a recent controversy this writer drew attention more than once to the issue of ideologues and Bill Moyer's statement that "Ideologues embrace a worldview that cannot be changed because they admit no evidence to the contrary." The reason should be obvious but in case it is not, the reason is that ideologues maintain their dogmatic assertions by suppressing or ignoring any evidences that countenance an opposing point of view.

It should also be self-evident that not all evidences are of equal weight but to make proper discernments requires usage of reason and logic: tools often ignored by those with ideology-driven agendas.

{3} Other than an kind of initial shallow euphoria of course.

{4} The principle of taking a less-desireable approach to limiting a greater evil was enunciated by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical on human life with regards to the subject of abortion:

A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects. [Pope John Paul II: Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae §73 (March 25, 1995)]

The same principle applies with those who (for various reasons) supported a military intervention in Iraq or with certain geopolitical alliances in the past that these kinds of ideologues wonder "what gives" when they try to come to grips with them. Obviously there is room for cordial disagreement on how this matter applies in the above situation but ideologues tend to be incapable of intelligent discourse on such matters. It is probably also not a coincidence that these same kinds of ideologues on the Catholic side could not see how Bush was a better selection than Kerry utilizing the same principle of limitation of evil which Pope John Paul II used in Evangelium Vitae with regards to the abortion issue.

{5} [V]irtually everyone who had monitored Saddam Hussein’s activities since the first Persian Gulf War (notably, the United Nations, the French, German and Russian intelligence services, the U.S. Congress, most of the Democratic presidential contenders, etc.), had concluded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was seeking to increase their numbers and lethal capabilities.

See footnote one for the source citation.

{6} Not to mention the screeds of their allies.

{7} Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

- by protecting evil-doers.
[Catechism of the Catholic Church §1868 (circa 1994)]

It can easily be argued that the failure to actually enforce so-called "international law" in Iraq after 1991 not only failed to hinder Saddam Hussein's Iraq but also that failure of enforcement (along with the Oil For Food charade) was a means of protecting him. And by this line of argumentation, those who supported these things were actually guilty of cooperating in the sins of the Hussein regime. If ideologues such as the one whose work We have just examined want to get technical about it, they could be charged with the murders, rapes, and other atrocities that took place between 1991 and 2003 in Iraq. Or as Greg Mockeridge noted in his guest editorial:

I do not remember [certain ideologues] shedding one drop of ink lamenting all the innocent Iraqi blood shed at the hands of Saddam. Not one word about the rape rooms where even children were raped, tortured, murdered in front of their parents. Not one word about the mass graves uncovering hundreds upon hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of corpses, and the grieving families trying to find the remains of loved ones.

Now obviously Greg Mockeridge and the present writer (not to mention our allies) recognize that there is a greater complexity to geopolitical matters than such a simplistic caricature would reveal. Nonetheless, if these kinds of ideologues want to argue in this fashion, they can be just as tarred and feathered as those they seek to implicate...without a shadow of doubt!!!

{8} The Crusades were a mixed bag historically; however there was some good that often goes overlooked by critics. As the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on The Crusades summarizes many of the benefits from those endeavours and that source wil be referenced at this time:

From the outset the Crusades were defensive wars and checked the advance of the Mohammedans who, for two centuries, concentrated their forces in a struggle against the Christian settlements in Syria; hence Europe is largely indebted to the Crusades for the maintenance of its independence...They re-established traffic between the East and West, which, after having been suspended for several centuries, was then resumed with even greater energy; they were the means of bringing from the depths of their respective provinces and introducing into the most civilized Asiatic countries Western knights, to whom a new world was thus revealed, and who returned to their native land filled with novel ideas; they were instrumental in extending the commerce of the Indies, of which the Italian cities long held the monopoly, and the products of which transformed the material life of the West. Moreover, as early as the end of the twelfth century, the development of general culture in the West was the direct result of these Holy Wars. Finally, it is with the Crusades that we must couple the origin of the geographical explorations made by Marco Polo and Orderic of Pordenone, the Italians who brought to Europe the knowledge of continental Asia and China. At a still later date, it was the spirit of the true crusader that animated Christopher Columbus when he undertook his perilous voyage to the then unknown America, and Vasco de Gama when he set out in quest of India. If, indeed, the Christian civilization of Europe has become universal culture, in the highest sense, the glory redounds, in no small measure, to the Crusades.

Now some have opined that the modern war on terror has parallels to the Crusades in that as in past days the enemies were not appeased with pious words and gestures but actually had to be defeated in battle. Whatever the merits or demerits of this outlook, it is at least rationally argued unlike the drivel that has spewed from the keyboards of these kinds of "more 'compassionate' than thou" so-called "progressivists."

{9} Lest it appear that We at Rerum Novarum are accusing all who opposed the military endeavours in Iraq as "pro-terrorist" or as "seditionists", to the contrary We have actually declared otherwise on this very weblog before.

{10} By rough count, there are at least seven argumentation fallacies or faulty approaches utilized in the text We have just examined. They are (i) questionable premises (ii) strawman (iii) tokenism (iv) solipsism (v) anachronism (vi) suppressed evidence (vii) provincialism.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(On Geopolitical "Alliances" and Moral/Ethical Distinctions)

[The] latent troublemaker approach [of certain ideologues] was perceptible to me in the run-up to the war in 2003 and particularly from early 2004 onward. [Their] refusal to take any sides in the presidential contest made it clear that there were serious problems involved. I could understand [them] biting [their] lip[s] and supporting Bush -as I admittedly did- but the idea that there was some kind of "moral equivalence" between Bush and Kerry was lunacy. Furthermore, [they] blatantly refused to follow the teaching of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae whereby one takes a position that is less than ideal to limit a greater evil.

[The refusal of certain ideologues] to clarify how much more horrid abortion and euthanasia are than warfare or the death penalty is the reason why. It would also explain [certain parties and their] geopolitical "befuddlement" as to why we supported Hussein against Khomeini in the 1980's (along with the Contras against the Sandinistas), the Afghan rebels against the Soviets in the 1980's, the south Vietnamese against the North Vietnamese in the 1970's and 1960's (as a hedge against communist expansion), Batista against Castro (though admittedly we played both sides on this one) in the 1950's, South Korea against North Korea in the 1950's (as a hedge against communist China), and Stalin against Hitler in the 1940's. (To name some examples which come to mind.) All of this is congruent with the principle that in the absence of an ideal situation free from all taint of potential evil that you align yourself with the lessor evil against the greater evil. This is a very basic Catholic moral and ethical principle which seems lost on certain ideologues. [I. Shawn McElhinney: From an email correspondence with minor modifications (circa May 16, 2005)]

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