Saturday, July 02, 2005

Miscellaneous Threads Worth Reviewing:

Alice in Realityland (Chrenkoff)

I have always liked Alice Cooper's music as well as some of his general weirdness. Certainly in the above thread, he shows himself capable of something that most rockstars are not capable of: a good use of logic and reason. Chrenkoff sums it up well when he said you have to be worried when a guy with too much mascara and a snake wrapped around his neck has a keener grasp of basic new millennium geopolitics than so many leading lights of the Democratic Party. But moving from the war on terror to the judicial front, we have the following...

Keep the pressure on your senators to nix a Gonzales nomination (Steve Dillard)

Late last night, I found amongst the mail in my inbox, a note from Steve Dillard (Feddie from Southern Appeal) and it is definitely worth reading. He summarizes his disgust at the prospect of an Alberto Gonzalez nomination to the Supreme Court in the following words:

Let me be blunt. If President Bush nominates Alberto Gonzales to fill O'Connor's seat or any other vacancy that may arise during his second term, then I am done with him. He'll be dead to me. And if Gonzales is confirmed, I am not giving the Republican party another dime. It's time to start walking the talk, boys. Either y'all deliver on Bush's promise to appoint justices like Scalia and Thomas, or I and others will make you pay for it dearly come election time. And you won't be able to bring me back into the fold with a "Well, things will be worse if the dems return to power" argument, because at that point I would just as soon wreck the ship and start from scratch.

This is a growing sentiment among not a few Republicans (not to mention Independents such as yours truly). And President Bush will be on thin ice in the coming months to make sure that he fulfills his promises viz. constructionist appointment to the judiciary.

There are some whose sole reason for voting for Bush in 2004 was because of the control of judicial appointments that re-electing the latter contained. But we all know that the Stupid Party has a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The long and short of it is this: there are a lot of really messed up court decisions in recent decades that need to be overturned. And that will not be done by appointing more whores or termites to the court.

Sandra Day O'Conner, however nice a person she may have been, did not vote in a manner that showed a consistent cognizence of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or the manifested intentions of the Framers. I noted recently how livid I am about the recent eminent domain ruling...that is one example which needs to be rectified ASAP. (Along with striking down any rulings in the past century that violate any of the Bill of Rights as they are properly understood.) However, O'Conner was no court termite, instead she was one who could be swayed in her principles depending on the particular constituency at issue. She did vote correctly in Bush vs. Gore for example. And she even voted correctly in the recent Supreme Court decision on eminent domain: the subject to be treated on next...

Even Bernie Sanders Doesn't Like Kelo (Todd Zywicki)

I figured that of all people, Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy would be visibly livid over the eminent domain issue. But he thus far has not shown that he views it as passionately as every American should. For those who do not know, basically the new ruling would enable a business to steal property from private parties under the rubric that they could provide more property tax revenue to the state than the owner of the property. Todd Zywicki points out that apparently there are congresspeople in both parties -even those who never seem to see eye to eye like Tom DeLay and Maxine Waters- who supported a House Bill (that passed 231 to 189) which would deny federal funding to any company that tried this tactic...not an ideal result but at the very least it is a step in the right direction. All of this makes the judicial situation I covered above -only judicial constructionists being appointed to the courts- take on the proper sense of urgency that it should have. I mean, what part of nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation applies to the seizing of private property for private usage??? This is not rocket science people.

Will the Real News Fabricator Please Stand Up? (Debbie Schlussel)

The above link is about the hypocrisies of certain modern journalists: the sort who make errors by the boatload and then have the temerity to write about issues such as press credibility:

[A]t posting time for this column, Shepardson’s phony article remains on the News’ website, minus any retraction or correction—more than a week after I exposed the hoax (though, I’m sure, as soon as this column wends its way to The Detroit News, they will get around to it.)

Instead and incredibly, Shepardson is the AUTHOR(!) of an article critical of Albom and of the Free Press investigation of him. The irony is Camryn Manheim thick. It’s like having John Gotti write an article claiming Al Capone was a mobster.

But that didn’t stop fabricator Shepardson from writing this about Albom:

“The issue matters to more than those who work in the downtown Detroit office that houses both The Detroit News and the Free Press. At a time when public trust in the media is low, credibility is a treasured commodity.”

Hello?!

Again, where is the News’ investigation of Shepardson? Don’t hold your breath. Instead, Shepardson quotes Detroit News Editor and Publisher Silverman pontificating about a News’ “ethics policy” for reporters—one that apparently either doesn’t apply to Shepardson or doesn’t proscribe fake stories. Nice.

Basically, David Shepardson wrote a completely bogus story about a terrorist which the Detroit News ran and there was (as of Debbie's writing) no apologies or retractions made. Meanwhile, earlier on, this same David Shepardson was one of those who complained that sports reporter Mitch Albom "got off easy" when Albom made an error in a sports story -the result of which was an investigation by the Detroit Free Press. David Shepardson thinks that Albom "got off easy" and was critical of oversights such as Albom's (on sports issues).

Despite his own far more significant errors, David Shepardson has the temerity to argue against Mitch Albom's oversights by saying [a]t a time when public trust in the media is low, credibility is a treasured commodity. You read correctly gentle reader, Shepardson castigated Albom but had yet to apologize or issue a retraction (as of Debbie's writing) for a bogus story he wrote on terrorism and for which he had not been (as of Debbie's writing) investigated by the Detroit News.

Those who wonder why your host has such a low view of the MSM and have been scathingly critical of the ethics of modern journalists, you now have your answer in a nutshell.

Introducing Haugen-Haas Ice Cream! (Jeff Miller)

Those who are unfortunate enough to have to suffer through the "liturgical music" of Marty Haugen and David Haas{1} will find some humour in the above parody.

The "Digital Conscience Recorder" (Jeff Miller)

For those who want their consciences to be "up to date", Jeff's latest "invention" is the solution. If it did not illustrate reality for many people so well, it would be even funnier than it is. Moving from the hilarious to the more somber, we have the following...

The ONE Campaign

The above link was sent to me today with an encouragement to sign their declaration. To understand my position in context, consider what the above campaign says about its intentions:

The ONE Campaign seeks to give Americans a voice, to ring church bells and cell phones, on campuses and in coffee shops, for an historic pact to fight the global AIDS emergency and end extreme poverty. We believe that allocating an additional ONE percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food, would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation of the poorest countries.

Now the end whereby this campaign is aimed is very laudable indeed. The problem is the means and as one who does not believe the end justifies the means, I cannot support such a campaign with those intentions. Those who want to give of their own monies to this campaign, by all means give what you will and may God bless you and those who receive what you give for it. But this idea of allocating the US budget for foreign causes (however laudable) cannot be supported by this writer.

For foreign aid is unconstitutional much as over seventy-five percent of the US budget is. And while a greater argument could be made for this kind of allocation of monies (if any were to be allocated) than for much of the unconstitutional expenditures; nonetheless, one cannot accept a violation of principles simply because it is convenient. And I have gone on record many time abhorring the concept of the legislature spending money for purposes to which they have no constitutional grounds doing. And foreign aid is one of them much as disaster relief is. It is not the congress' money to be giving out!!!

Now those who want to give of their own volition have every right to do so and such giving should be encouraged. Again, the issue here is not the end of the One Campaign but instead its proposed means. The end cannot justify the means as I noted above. And that is the bottom line really...

Life Out of Death (Phil Shea)

The above link deals with the Susan M. Torres Fund. Please give whatever you can to the worthwhile cause outlined at the above link.

Note:

{1} Thankfully, I am not one of them.

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A Last Minute Addendum:

The previous installment of this thread can be read HERE. The beginning of the thread itself starts HERE.

I have been informed through the grapevine that Mr. Hand has sent out a circular email whereby he tries to impugn some of us for the supposed "crime" of publishing (in certain circumstances) private emails. He has also been putting on the charade that this is somehow a new practice. For clarification sake, this weblog has been in existence since August 22, 2002 and I first started this practice on August 25, 2002.{1} Mr. Hand not only knew about this, he even posted to his blog a thread from Rerum Novarum where this was explicitly noted almost three years ago. And lest readers forget, he emailed me with that whole "tribute" thing over a year ago and was fully aware that I have utilized this practice since the beginning of this weblog's existence!!! If I was interested in really piling it on, I could easily prove this to the further discredit of Mr. Hand. So those who fall for his latest prevarications be warned: he is trying to hoodwink you yet again.

Furthermore, Mr. Hand does essentially the same thing that he thinks is somehow "unethical" or "repugnant" when we do it. To quote from his own site on the matter of email policy:

NOTICE TO E-Mail Flamers: Because Email flamers have been heating up since the war began, this is public notice that any email which goes beyond simple civility and addressing of issues sent to TCR will be considered public email and may be published or otherwise quoted, in whole or in part, at this site at the discretion of the editor. See permanent note at bottom of page. Emails which are civil and / or which address only issues, however vehemently, will be considered strictly private unless stated otherwise by the sender."

If I applied this type of criteria at Rerum Novarum then everything Mr. Hand has sent me the past two months would be criteria for posting!!! For this reason, his supposed "disgust" at what Dave and I do is blatantly hypocritical since he does the same thing he claims is unethical when Dave and I do it.

But then again, Mr. Hand will probably try to split hairs to explain away his latest inconsistency. I can only surmize that it is the epistemological fallacy of solipsism which is quite evidently at the very heart of his weltanschauung. The reader is asked to consider how the above disclaimer is any different in principle than what I have had in disclaimer form at Rerum Novarum for nearly three years now is something that is now so objectionable. Here is the text of the disclaimer yet again:

Any correspondence will be presumed eligible for blogging unless the sender otherwise specifies. This is referred to as the Welborn Protocol and is a policy that will be followed at Rerum Novarum. (Though name and email information will as a rule not be posted without explicit request to do so by the sender.)

About the only difference between the two is that I am far more straight forward than Mr. Hand is. For I use objective criteria for my email policy (i.e. "all correspondence") rather than subjective criteria (i.e. "email flamers") which allows for equivocation and hence disingenuousness. And of course those who think Mr. Hand's judgments are sound ones only need to read this thread and every thread I have linked to it to see that such an assessment of him would be an error of Grand Canyon-like proportions.

Anyway, having noted these things, this weblog will once again employ the approach towards Mr. Hand that was implemented back on May 11, 2005 with all the same general rules and potential exceptions noted at that time. (All things to the contrary notwithstanding.)

Note:

{1} As the first official magisterial exercise of the aforementioned "Welborn Protocol" on this blog, the following was a portion of an email received at my angelfire address from someone who shall remain nameless. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 25, 2002)]

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On Actual "Obsessions", "Angsts", and "Tormented Consciences":
(Aka "Slight of Hand" Dept. --Part III of III)

The previous installment of this thread can be read HERE. The beginning of the thread itself starts HERE.

Every momentous event in the life of a nation must be scrutinized in the light of the Christ-Event.

This is true. However, Jesus Christ did not sanction the kind of shirking from civil obligations (such as voting) that Mr. Hand has admitted that he recently did. So in that light, his attempted paens to referencing "the Christ-Event" in this context come across as quite hollow indeed.

And when one places any nation above the teachings of Jesus, it only follows that one must persecute the peacemaking Church which is Catholic / universal and above all the nations on earth.

The subjects of Church teaching and authentic peacemakers was already covered above so we need not repeat ourselves here except to note that (once again) Mr. Hand is prevaricating. And his frequent attempts to cloak his cowardice and manifested lack of charity in the fleece of the Gospel are shameless to say the least.

Hostility toward the other---scapegoating--- is first and formost persecution of one's own aching concience.

Mr. Hand has just diagosed himself with the above comments and explained for everyone why he has acted as he has ever since he was taken to task by us for some of his excesses.

The real problem is with Jesus and His teachings. His love and preferential option for the poor is a sign of contradiction to the end of time in a world gone mad with war.

Several of us have already discussed Mr. Hand's egregious misrepresentation of the "preferential option for the poor" mantra{1} so it need not be covered again here.

As we move towards the end of this posting, the readers are directed to Mr. Hand's second to last paragraph above to see him give an accurate self-diagnosis which explains (i) his cowardice in deliberately refusing to properly represent the arguments of many of those who have been critical of him as of late,{2} (ii) he and his allies making pathetic appeals of emotionalism in some threads as a way of trying to camouflage the lack of a solid and rational foundation to their positions.

We could also note (iii) his inability to have an authentic dialogue with those who disagree with him, and (iv) his constant prevaricating on key distinctions that undergird issues of no small substance. More failings on his part could be noted but what is noted here more than adequately recapitulates the major subject threads of recent months on the Stephen Hand fiasco by the so-called "warblogs."

The disintegration of Mr. Hand's once-admirable apostolate has been a source of concern for us all. And while it is true that our pointing out key areas of his imbalance has resulted in Mr. Hand throwing a barrage of insults our way, we accepted this as a probability when we made the decision to undertake this public intervention. However, we hope that in time he will realize what he has done and will seek reconciliation - certainly he has our prayers for that eventuality occurring. Such approach would seem to be fitting for a man who makes as one of the themes of his apostolate the exhortation from the Author of Hebrews to "[s]trive for peace with all men" (Heb xii,14): a peace which can never occur as long as he continues to prevaricate about us, our motives, etc. and manifest an attitude so opposed to authentic charity. The latter was explained admirably by St. Paul in the following words:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things [St. Paul: 1 Corinthians xiii,1-7]

St. Paul defines charity as being kind, not showing envy, not being easily provoked, and thinking no evil. Mr. Hand's entire pattern since the beginning of this intervention has been (i) anything but kind in these interactions, (ii) one that has shown that he is easily provoked, and (iii) that Mr. Hand is constantly imputing to others some of the worst possible motives: the very definition of "thinking evil."

We must confess in closing that having to use terms such as "coward", "hypocrite", "prevaricator", etc. to describe Mr. Hand is unfortunate. However, because he has yet to properly represent what we have said even once and (furthermore), since he shows not even the slightest indication of actually interacting with the substance of our criticisms of him and his apostolate, those terms become unfortunately very apropo to explain him.{3} Words after all do mean things even if people such as Mr. Hand try to pretend that they do not.

We do hope that in time he will realize the magnitude of the damage he has done to his credibility and will seek reconciliation -which by its very nature must involve apologizing for his prevarications and for his very disingenuous treatment of our statements on these issues.{4} Mr. Hand has our prayers as well as our hopes that eventuality he will approach these issues in an authentically charitable manner and seek reconciliation both honestly as well as humbly. For our part, we would be bound by the canons of traditional charity to accept such a plea from him even if from a human standpoint there were reservations in light of what has transpired. For it bears repeating: the approach to reconciliation would seem to be fitting for a man who tries to appear to make as one of the themes of his apostolate the exhortation from the Author of Hebrews to "[s]trive for peace with all men" (Heb xii,14).

For a brief addendum, see this thread.

Notes:

{1} We could also mention Mr. Hand's obvious misunderstandings of the concepts of authentic peacemaking, some of those who are true peacemakers, and the meaning of true peace.

{2} We could also mention Mr. Hand's utilization of various argumentation fallacies to accompany his hyper-emotionalist rhetoric.

{3} It should be noted that if Mr. Hand for some reason does decide to make an attempt to actually respond to some of what has been written that there is more to it than merely writing a response. In briefly touching on this point (which is of no small importance), a reference to personal experience as well as past acquaintances will be necessary.

Some of us used to be involved in the trenches of theological disputations with a Catholic convert named Stephen P. Haws who happened to be an attorney. He used to say that he saw a parallel in the kinds of exchanges that take place on message boards and the like with his experience as an attorney -penning the following observation on the two:

My experience as an attorney has taught me that no matter how brilliant and correct your legal brief, you can be sure that your opponent will ALWAYS file an opposing brief (no matter how frivolous or incorrect)."

Certainly we can vouch from personal experience the above scenarios with interacting with a cornucopia of people of different outlooks in years gone by. That observation is one which Mr. Hand should keep in mind if he decides to respond to us. For if he does this and his response is filled with errors and/or frivolous bits, then he would only affirm the experience of Mr. Haws above both as an attorney as well as one involved in various disputations on theological subjects. And at that point, he would be potentially subjecting himself to further scrutiny in the process.

However, it bears noting in brief that despite that potential scenario -and whatever the demerits would be of Mr. Hand making a genuine attempt to respond- that even a half-baked piece would be progress in light of the cowardly evasions he has utilized thus far.

{4} Not to mention for his malicious imputing to us of ill-motives or having some kind of "tormented consciences" when the cumulative evidences would suggest that he is once again engaging in projection.

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On Actual "Obsessions", "Angsts", and "Tormented Consciences":
(Aka "Slight of Hand" Dept. --Part II of III)

The previous installment of this thread can be read HERE.

They don't see that these are two distinct matters for reflection.

There are more than two matters for reflection on this subject.

And as one notes this phenomenon, this soliloquy about the "necessity" of wars, one cannot help but sense the angst, the tormented conscience which, unconsciously perhaps, senses it is in tragic tension with the teachings of Jesus.

The reader is asked to notice that now Mr. Hand has moved from claiming that those who oppose him are opposed to the "pope's teaching on the war"{1} and are instead "in tragic tension with the teachings of Jesus." We have to wonder if Mr. Hand would care to disclose what "teachings of Jesus" are being opposed here. We also have to wonder if Mr. Hand would say that the "teachings of Jesus" that he presumes to refer to were somehow "opposed" to the teachings of the Old Testament as well as that of St. Paul and the other apostles. Once again, in his desperate attempt to co-opt Jesus for his particular ideology, Mr. Hand would seem to have no problems sacrificing the integrity of the OT and the rest of the NT on the altar of pacifism by seeking to pit Jesus against the OT and also against the rest of the NT. More cautious people would recognize that the teachings of Jesus are a lot more nuanced than Mr. Hand cares to point out...but then again that shows where he is a slave to ideology rather than a genuine seeker of truth.

One such blog makes fun of "peacemaking," and "peacemakers," though Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers," and refused to join the insurgency against Roman occupation in place during his life.

The webmaster of Rerum Novarum does make light of false so-called "peacemakers" but not the real deal. And TCR and Mr. Hand are quite evidently not the real deal for anyone who is familiar with the concept of true peace in the Catholic tradition.

Another suggests peacemakers and advocates of the poor are liars, self-righteous hypocrites just looking to maintain a constituency, even though, as everyone knows, Our Lord showed his healing love especially for the poor in everything he did ---and told us to do likewise, taking up the same cross.

Once again Mr. Hand resorts to strawman caricatures which are not to his credit. It is true that some of us have suggested that there are pseudo-"peacemakers" who are liars and self-righteous hypocrites seeking to maintain a constituency. That is not uncommon much as there are frauds in every field trying to pass themselves off as different than they really are. However, to acknowledge this would not be in Mr. Hand's best interests because it might tip off any readers he has left to look closer at what Mr. Hand actually says rather than accept uncritically the notion that he and his apostolate are true "peacemakers" as Mr. Hand would prefer that they do.

After all, anyone can say they are something but the proof is not in what they say but what they do and how they act in doing it. Mr. Hand has shown repeatedly in his interactions with some of us that he is bereft of authentic Catholic charity. And as charity cannot be separated from authentic peace, the status of Mr. Hand and his cronies as pseudo-"peacemakers" (as opposed to the real deal) is quite evident for those with eyes to see.

One sees the subtext here: it's the GOP's exhausted arguments against the Democrats transferred to theology. It's parroting Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Fox "News"...

Few if any of us actually listen to Sean Hannity and at least some of us do not particularly care for Bill O'Reilly.{2} But that is neither here nor there of course since Mr. Hand frequently has demonstrated that he does not read too closely what we have written. If the reader needs any more evidence of this, they can notice how Mr. Hand continues with the pathetic strawman caricatures of our positions. We did notice though that Mr. Hand puts the word news in quotes when referring to FoxNews. This is quite telling as we are not aware of him doing this with other news networks.

But that point aside for a moment, it is actually a more plausible argument to make these kinds of assertions about Mr. Hand's work. For the subtext of Mr. Hand's various screeds is actually nothing more than the hyperemotional and logically-bereft babblings of the lunatic fringe of the Democratic Party transferred to theology: this explains Mr. Hand's predicament quite trenchantly. And the latter is certainly far easier to demonstrate than what Mr. Hand is asserting. This leads us to surmise that he is engaging in what psychologists refer to as "projecting" with the above comments. Indeed, Mr. Hand's irrational responses to having certain errors and excesses in his work pointed out to him by us recently make it not much of a stretch to see his entire approach as one giant psychological projection. However, to delve further into that would be to distract from the purpose of this thread so that is all we will say on it for now.

It is tragic, especially to swallow the planks of any party uncritically as these do.

See our previous comments. Furthermore, Mr. Hand's above comments should be read in light of his own writings which are permeated with uncritically swallowed drivel from quack "commentators." By contrast, few if any of those he accuses of "swallow[ing] the planks of any party uncritically are actually Republicans. That does not mean that we do not see more value in the Republican's stated positions{3} of course; however it is not even remotely in the uncritical fashion that Mr. Hand asserts with any of us. If anything, the only ones who do accept things uncritically are people such as Mr. Hand and his allies: and again, this is not difficult to demonstrate.

Clearly, neither the GOP nor the Democrats satisfy Catholic teaching in our time, which is why we could not vote in this past election).

It is true that the past election was in many respects not the sort of ideal scenario that we would have liked to see. However, elections seldom are and we are called to do the best that we can do with what we have to work with, not remove ourselves from the process completely in a kind of Donatist isolation. This principle was enunciated by Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae -a source that Mr. Hand often mentions but apparently has not read with due attention. Observe:

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 (circa March 25, 1995)]

Now it is true that George W. Bush was far from an ideal candidate...indeed we all have noted this on not a few occasions in the past. Nonetheless, to pretend that there is any kind of equivalence between the two candidates who ran (as Mr. Hand did) is evidence that he does not make the very kinds of distinctions that were pointed out in the initial threads where some of us discussed a few very glaring problems with Mr. Hand's approach to these issues as well as his recent attempts at revising the historical record. But ultimately there is more to it than just that.

For the above principle which the pope spoke of in Evangelium Vitae is a general principle of Catholic morality. For that reason, it applies not only to the abortion subject (which it is explicitly utilized in) to all attempts to limit evil in the public square -including how one strives to approach geopolitical issues.{4} By corollary extension therefore, it also applies to how one should approach voting if they have that privilege. One can make a poor voting choice at times but if they at least participate in the process, then they are to be extended at least a little latitude in discussing the issues pertaining to it later on. However, to deliberately not vote at all is to lose any credibility to discuss the issues as far as we are concerned. Furthermore, this kind of attempts to "equalize" the choice between the GOP and the Democrats in the last election is evidence of Mr. Hand's intellectual sophistry on these issues to put it bluntly.

After all, if you asked Mr. Hand to come out from behind his sophisms and point out where the GOP does not "satisfy Catholic teaching", we can guarantee that he would point to the subjects of (i) the war in Iraq, (ii) capital punishment, and (iii) certain applications of social principles. For those keeping score, these are all subjects which he has admitted before are ones where the Catholic magisterium has not actually set forth teaching on. Yet Mr. Hand would obviously consider these to be issues of equal weight as areas where there is recognized teaching (aka "doctrine") which requires the assent of Catholics.{5} This is the only way to logically explain away his civic cowardice and attempts to claim that [c]learly, neither the GOP nor the Democrats satisfy Catholic teaching. And for him to do this is to once again expose himself as a disingenuous ideologue who tries to have it both ways.


To be Continued...

Notes:

{1} This kind of assertion is one that Mr. Hand has made on more occasions than we can adequately recount offhand. For one such example circa May 29, 2005, see footnote five from part one of this thread.

{2} Bill O'Reilly and his so-called "No-Spin-Zone" (despite some problems) is certainly a lot more reliable and accurate a source than Carol O'Reilly's Spin-Zone and her obvious weltanschauung of Subjectivism.

{3} Which (it must be added) is not necessarily the same as the ones they govern on once elected but that is another subject altogether.

{4} The subject of geopolitics is a complex one which some of us have written about these kinds of issues on not a few occasions.

{5} These were issues which we remind you were ones where the Democratic ticket in the last election were 100% in opposition to.

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On Actual "Obsessions", "Angsts", and "Tormented Consciences":
(Aka "Slight of Hand" Dept. --Part I of III)

[Prefatory Note: Though I am writing this on my own initiative, I will nonetheless speak in a general sense for Greg Mockeridge, Dave Armstrong, and Christopher Blosser as well with this posting. They can clarify if they so desire any micro differences in their views and what I will set forth in the text below –as at least from a macro standpoint it is a safe assertion that we all have a similar outlooks on these issues.

As it is always easier to make unsubstantiated assertions briefly that then require a lot more writing to dispel, this response ended up being rather long. And while I may for that reason break it up into three parts for easier reading later on, at the moment it will be posted as it is. -ISM]

The purpose of this thread will be to recapitulate to a certain extent many of the themes that have been covered in certain parts of the blogosphere since late April of 2005 pertaining to Mr. Stephen Hand and his TCR website. Mr. Hand's words in this thread will be in firebrick red font. Our words will be in regular font with any sources referenced in darkblue font excepe where otherwise noted.

If You Go to the War Blogs

The reader is asked to notice the labels{1} that Mr. Hand uses right off the bat to try and control the perceptions of readers. They are asked to also notice that he does not identify whom these so-called "warblogs" are. The reason he does not do this is due to fact that anyone who reads his words might surf on over to see what those he labels that way actually say. Mr. Hand himself was after all too cowardly to interact with criticisms recently made of his approach to certain issues. It therefore stands to reason that he does not want any of those who happen to stumble onto his site and read his words to know those to whom he is trying to indirectly refer to.{2} For those with eyes to see, his cowardice is quite telling.

...you note a certain phenomenon which is very sad and telling. You see bloggers spilling thousands of words rationalizing war in general in order to convince themselves that this war---and, more importantly, their support for it----must be right.

Most of those he is referring to as "warblogs" have spent much less time on the war subject than on any number of other subjects they have covered. They have written on the war subject from time to time though because we are currently at war. This circumstance makes the subject itself one that needs to be discussed from time to time in various parameters. But of course we could turn this around and note that other bloggers such as Mr. Hand{3} spill words by the boatload trying to blur the important distinctions to these subjects and utilize deceptive rhetorical language to try and appeal to emotions. This will be touched on shortly so that we are not in the same position of making assertions without actual proofs as is Mr. Hand's unfortunate stock in trade these days.

To start with, it bears recalling that in recent months there have been some of us who have observed in the public mediums that Mr. Hand does not care about how accurate his current presentations of reality actually are.{4} This even extends to his willingness to use any third rate quack sources he can find to attempt to convince [himself] that this war ---and, more importantly, [his opposition to] it---must be right. He also apparently has no shame in affiliating with anyone who supports his ideology no matter whom they are -presumably under the "any enemy of a perceived enemy is a long lost friend" rubric.

Furthermore, Mr. Hand tries to cloak his own statements in the garb of papal authority in a classic example of the fallacious appeal to authority approach in argumentation. While doing the latter, he often engages in equivocation by characterizing any statements by the popes he likes as their "teaching" even when they are not.{5} Then, he throws a rather predictable verbal tantrum when these kinds of equivocations are pointed out publicly. So while on the one hand he says he is not blurring distinctions as we have asserted, on the other hand he reverts back to such tactics again later on.{6} This bizarre inconsistency on his part indicates that he either (i) is unaware that he is doing it or that (ii) he is fully aware of it and is being deliberately deceptive. Unfortunately, in light of Mr. Hand's most recent attitude, it is not possible anymore to give him the benefit of the doubt on this matter.

For when he was called out on the matter -as some of us have done in recent months- only then does he pretend to make the distinctions that he otherwise refuses to make. If anything is very sad and telling it is Mr. Hand and his prevaricating on these issues. Apparently, he is unable to comprehend that there is such a thing out there as the "just war tradition" and there are viable arguments to be made that it has gotten a lot of short shrift the past forty years.{7} There are ethical and philosophical complexities to this subject which are evidently beyond the comprehension of Mr. Hand and his associates to discuss with even a modicum of intelligence. They have instead shown a preference for disingenuous manipulations of various sources along with the utilization of logical fallacies like the improper appeal to authority among other logical fallacies to advance their reactionary ideologies.

There is irony in Mr. Hand's assertions against us because Mr. Hand has done what he accuses us of doing for years now -and with an escalating frequency particularly in the past year to year and a year and a half or more. Not a few people have noticed it{8} and he apparently did not like it that some of us have decided that we would no longer let these things go by without explicitly commenting on them. Nonetheless, that is his problem not ours. If anyone seems to really be in need of convinc[ing] themselves on this matter, it is quite evidently Mr. Hand because if he was so sure of himself, he would be able to interact intelligently with the actual arguments of his critics rather than either (i) ignore them or (ii) caricature them so they can appear easily dismissed.{9} But those who have read all sides of these issues know that Mr. Hand has no solid ground to stand on. That is why he needs to constantly engage in prevaricating and seeking to distract people from the actual issues at stake rather than having a sober discussion of them.

All of us personally gave him a number of chances and he failed each time to show that he was even vaguely familiar with what those who criticized him actually said. At various points, some of us viewed it as no longer a valuable usage of limited time to remain focused on these matters so they ended up being dropped. Others disagreed with this assessment and have continued writing occasionally on it up to the present time. But just because some of us have decided to not discuss these matters does not mean that we have conceded on the issues of discussion.

After all, it would be the height of overestimation to say that Mr. Hand was even batting .100 on the issues we have sought to raise. (A more accurate assessment would be a .020 accuracy rating but we digress.) For that reason, the reader viewing this situation would properly understand it as a matter of some of us not wanting to continue to highlight his profound loss of credibility in recent months as the reason for deciding not to prolong these issues. It most certainly is not in any sense whatsoever that we view him as actually having made a contribution of value to the arena of ideas on the subject matters we have raised: a more accurate assessment would be that his responses have thus far been "weighed in the scales and found severely lacking" (cf. Dan. v, 27).

To be Continued...

Notes:

{1} [W]hen we get down to brass tacks, all forms of engineering - be it social, philosophical, theological, political, medical, scientific, legal, or otherwise- is preceded by verbal engineering. This is why I refuse to cede to the extremists of any stripe their own choice of terminology. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 30, 2003)]

{2} Actually, it is not accurate to say that Mr. Hand and his cronies have been completely silent. He and his ideological allies have chosen the path of rudeness and unconscionable behaviour as ways of seeking to attack the persons who were critical of him rather than actually address their arguments. He has also sought to engage in a bit of historical revisionism to boot. While that is another subject altogether, it does nonetheless show just how desperate he is to protect his precious ideology. And to think he has the temerity to assert that others have "tormented consciences"...

{3} And yes, much as he may loathe the idea of it (in light of what he has said about weblogs in general), Mr. Hand does run a weblog feature at TCR in all of its essentials.

{4} We say current presentations of reality because Mr. Hand has changed his mind rather abruptly as of late without giving a reasonable explanation. For this reason, we cannot say with any certainty what he may say tomorrow is "true" or not since he may in subsequent periods repudiate it without reasonable explanation as well.

{5} This idea that he didn't call anyone "less than Catholic" is an insult to our intelligence. While he never uses those words, he clearly implies such. To wit his attack on Fr. Pavone:

"Hear the good man sadly declare himself wiser than the Holy Father as he plays fast and loose with the Pope's clear teaching and intent in another matter of life and death"

If this isn't calling someone "less than Catholic," nothing is! Also saying that we (the war hawk bloggers) are "after the popes again" is tantamount to castings aspersions on our orthodoxy. [Greg Mockeridge: Excerpt from a privately circulated email circa May 14, 2005 about some TCR statements in recent years]


It bears noting that the above excerpt is from a TCR article titled Fr. Pavone (Finally!) Reveals His Americanist Point of Departure which Greg originally used in his Rerum Novarum guest editorial. Mr. Hand has since then removed that article from his site without apology to those he insulted. The readers can take from that undeniable fact whatever they like about the integrity of Mr. Hand and his TCR apostolate. Unlike Mr. Hand, we do not delete archived material from previous periods of time to try and hide from it.

{6} You have to read Stephen's so-called truce statements with a bit more than just a cursory glance. In the article...refers [to], Stephen says that it "never occurred to [them] that to suggest that those who support this war are less Catholic than we who oppose it." Then a few lines later he drops this [bit]:

"We confess our fear that too many Catholics are more influenced by the judgements of media personalities and news channels than the prudential wisdom and ordinary magisterium of the popes and the Church ." [Greg Mockeridge: Excerpt from a privately circulated email circa May 31, 2005 about a TCR statement (circa May 29, 2005)]

Apparently Mr. Hand believes that we are incapable of seeing through this kind of Orwellian doublethink. But then again, those of us who actually know our history are not so rash as to place trust in the diplomatic positions of the Holy See as Mr. Hand so naively does. This would not be a problem (of course) if Mr. Hand did not try to give the impression that his naivete was somehow more commendable than the more historically informed views of several of us who disagree with him.

{7} There are many reasons for the Catholic Just war tradition receiving the shirt shrift that it has the past forty years. Perhaps one of the key reasons involve certain faulty presuppositions on which many who attempt to apply it to modern situations base their rationale on.

{8} To give just a sampling of the email we have received on this matter from former fans/promoters of TCR will require a bit of space. To avoid the citations all blending together, the colours of deep sky blue3, dark goldenrod3, and dark turquoise will be alternated:

Unbelievable. I guess there's a good indication that one has emerged on top in a debate when the other so blatantly refuses to engage your arguments directly and resorts to this manner of speech and slanders to one's character. [Excerpt from an email received on May 6, 2005]

You are [livid] and rightfully so. Hand's arguments are patently ludicrous. His opposition to the war is more conspiracy minded than the Remnant's was.

Saying that, I would honestly not even bother responding to him until he substantially engages what you wrote. What I see is someone who has essentially fallen out of logic, and is now clinging to emotionalism...

What I see is someone who has essentially fallen out of logic, and is now clinging to emotionalism....Lately Hand's reflections have neither been Catholic, CERTAINLY not traditional! [Excerpts from an email received on May 6, 2005]

Stephen is entitled to his semi-leftist/semi-Democrat political views. So is Fr. Groetchel. However Fr. Groetchel unlike Stephen doesn't equate the two and condemn other Catholics for holding [different] views...

If Stephen ONLY railed against Pro-War "Catholic" Jerks who questioned the motives & morals of the Pope I would be right behind him. But his problem is he has abandoned logic & made his personnel views equal to Catholic doctrine. It is bad enough when the Radtrads do it. We don't need Stephen doing it. It makes the rest of us look bad. [Excerpts from an email received on May 7, 2005]

I don't need to show that Stephen didn't interact with Shawn McElhinney. I think that's apparent. But what he said...is an ad-hominem attack. It is DISRESPECTFUL. Disrespecting a person the way Stephen did, who did not interact with Greg's or Shawn's arguments, is contrary to the Catholic faith. As John Paul II said:

"The present Encyclical, the fruit of the cooperation of the Episcopate of every country of the world, is therefore meant to be a precise and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability, and at the same time a pressing appeal addressed to each and every person, in the name of God: RESPECT, protect, love and serve life, every human life!" (Evangelium Vitae 5)

What Stephen did, therefore, is contrary to what John Paul the Great said. We should respect every human person and ad-hominem attacks is disrespectful. The comments of Stephen is not just an attack to Shawn, but also to the teaching of John Paul II. [Excerpt from an email received on May 7, 2005]

Hopefully we can keep the tone constructive. Stephen needs to listen to his critics. [Excerpt from an email received on May 9, 2005]

Nicely done...You said what you had to say. [Excerpt from an email received on May 11, 2005]

I read your blog piece against Steve Hand and of course agree with you. [Excerpt from an email received on May 21, 2005]

Pure sophistry. Is that the best that [Hand] can do? Oh my. [Excerpt from an email received on May 24, 2005]

PS thanks for the fraternal correction of TCR News. I was wondering if it was just me, or if they really were veering in that direction. This made me very sad, as there was so much good material on that site. But you, Greg and Chris did a good job. [Excerpt from an email received on June 10, 2005]

It was noted to the reader above from June 10th that Dave Armstrong deserves credit too.

{9} Greg's editorial, and I. Shawn McElhinney's commentary, address the excessive speech and grave distortions of one particular member of our online Catholic community, Stephen Hand of TCRNews, who appears "unable or unwilling to engage in any substantive discussion" on these issues, forgoing "passionate, intelligent and charitable dialogue and debate" to instead engage in deliberate misrepresentation and calumnious attacks of a nature that mimic the very 'radtrads' he had so deftly criticized in the past. [Excerpt from Against The Grain (circa May 15, 2005)]

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

On the War and Those Who Try To Hide From Their Past:
(aka "Where Have You Gone Santayana" Dept.)

I have discussed on previous occasions{1} the utter sewer which is modern journalism today on so many levels. One of the more heinous characteristics of how this once-noble profession is commonly practiced today is in the tendencies of the vast majority of so-called "journalists" to try and pull a fast one by revising the historical record. A classic example of this was in the response of so many Democrats to the president's speech the other night. It was touched on in a post to this humble weblog only yesterday with a reference to an article by Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online. Let us consider some of that article at the present time -these quotes will not be in sequential order:

If the president is guilty of anything, it's not that he's dwelling on 9/11 enough. It's that the administration has not done a good enough job of probing and underscoring the nexus between the Saddam regime and al Qaeda.

That is an understatement and a half. Frankly the Administration's most commonly-enunciated case for the war has always been weaker than those of other people -including the one which was outlined in early 2003 here at Rerum Novarum.

The New York Times, with predictable disingenuousness, is railing this morning that the 9/11 references in the speech are out of bounds because Iraq had “nothing whatsoever to do with the terrorist attacks.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and the tedious David Gergen, among others, are in Gergen’s words “offended” about use of the 9/11 “trump card.”

This is typical of those who think the public are all stupid and do not have a memory of the past. Allow me to refresh your memories here my friends. First of all, there is the statements of prominent Democratic congresspeople which I pointed out in a couple of posts last August. But there is also the very congressional record itself which is not on their side. The latter is what I will focus on in this post.

Next to me in another browser window is the Joint Resolution to Authorize the use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq which passed both houses of congress in late 2002. This resolution is one which almost all of the major Democratic figures I pointed to above voted in favour of. Among those who voted for this resolution (but whom I did not mention) is the very same Harry Reid of Nevada who is currently House Minority Leader and asserting that there is no connection between Al-Qaida and Iraq!!!{2} Here are the particularly salient parts of that resolution in light of the current carping by many of these same Democratic party representatives and senators:

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

Those who remember the position of your host on the war will recall that the conditions of that cease-fire were a significant part of my publicly stated position on these matters...a position which I have not wavered a single iota from by the way.{3}

Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

See my previous comments.

Whereas members of al-Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Read that again my friends!!! This was late 2002 and many who voted on a joint resolution which declared that Al-Qaida had members "known to be in Iraq" are now saying that there was never a connection between Iraq and Al-Qaida!!!

Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President `to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677';

Some of those resolutions were referenced in my publicly stated position on the use of military force in Iraq circa early February 2003 -particularly resolution 678 which reiterated the content of many of the other resolutions listed above. More could be noted but there is enough here to point out yet again why not only the Democrats cannot be trusted to tell the truth on the war issue but also why journalists are even less reliable.

For it took me all of five minutes of googling to find these sources. Are we to believe that no journalists in the MSM were capable of refuting the current comments by Senator Harry Reid in like manner??? The answer of course is not that they could not do it but that they would not. And that my friends is proof that they are not truth seekers but instead are ideologues. And that is the bottom line really...

Notes:

{1} The depravity to which the journalistic profession has fallen since the days of Watergate can be to some extent pinned on Woodward and Bernstein...not as much them personally as what they ushered in in the aftermath of the Nixon resignation. [...] The journalistic profession has become one where you "make it" by finding someone whose reputation you can destroy. Ethics are often not a factor, indeed morals and ethics often get the screw from journalists who are trying to "make it" and then (for those who "make it") the same tactics are utilized to try and stay "on top." The same is the case with the legal profession and the political profession: oftentimes those who "make it" do so by screwing other people. So the parallel to prostitution is an apt one. The only difference of course is that prostitutes are somewhat honest about it. But enough on that subject for now.

...Woodward and Bernstein by their approach to "Deep Throat" ushered in a new era of journalism which is rotten to the core. It is comprised of people who seek to create news and who are interested in spinning the facts to advance an agenda rather than report on what is happening and letting the readers draw their own conclusions. The ethics in this field are abysmal and a strong reason why the MSM is slowly becoming more and more irrelevant in this new age of alternative media is because they are no longer a monopoly. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 1, 2005)]

{2} Check the record for yourself if you doubt me:

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress - 2nd Session (2002)

Among others who voted yes to that resolution were:

Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator John Kerry
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Christopher Dodd
Senator Joseph Biden
Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Jay Rockefeller
Senator Harry Reid

So this whole idea that "there is no connection between Iraq and 9/11" was contradicted by those senators in their voting -since the joint resolution expressely declared that there was.

{3} That is the value of thinking through a position carefully before taking a public stand. As far as the contents of the joint-resolution of the congress from 2002 goes, I never even took it into account when setting forth a case for the military option in Iraq in early 2003.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

For Preserving the Historical Record:

[Prefatory Note: The material in this posting was originally put up at a comments box thread on this date and at this time. In order to preserve the historical record in light of the latter source being erased soon, I have decided for only the second time in this weblog's history to backpost something. I am loath to do such things but normal protocol has to be benched for the sake of insuring that what has been said publicly by yours truly does not get lost in the shuffle in disputations with those who like to play revisionist with actual events and circumstances of the past.

What you are about to read originally preceded the material located HERE by a couple of days...indeed that material was in draft stage and almost complete when I felt it necessary to weigh in briefly with the material you are about to read in the comments box of another weblog. (The original link will be above the date and time stamp of this posting.) When the links in the later posting which reference the below material become defunct (as they will in about two weeks), I will replace them with the link to this posting to ensure continuity. Furthermore, the link and brief description originally posted two days ago (which was replaced by the original material posted here) will be posted shortly after this thread is published. But without further ado, here is material written back on June 29, 2005 for a venue other than Rerum Novarum and modified only slightly as needed. -ISM 9/21/05 12:40pm]

The following will set the record straight on certain things Mr. Hand has said which were directed against me. As I do not have time to put everything in the right order and make it neat, they will not necessarily be in sequential order. As Dave and others have already written a lot on these matters in this thread, all I will say here before getting to the meat of this response is that the second half of this note should be read in concurrence with what some of what Dave already wrote -particularly this link and this one to see the full picture for what it is. Mr. Hand's words will be in brackets: black font:

The reason you, Shawn M and Gregg M cannot know that the writers at TCRNews.com, myself included, have answered your "questions" submitted in the form of a sustained ad hominem,

Ad hominem is an attack to the man rather than the argument or position that the man himself has Mr. Hand. Our responses were directly aimed at your positions and not you personally. The only one who has been attacking persons rather than issues is you and your cronies.

is that you SAY you have no time to visit TCR, or you wouldn't waste your time at such a site, or whatever. So how COULD you know we answered those questions both before and after? But to launch an ad hominem blitz without first doing the research is hardly the way to come across as serious and caring.

Mr. Hand, I have people who keep me apprised of various site and locales either at their own initiative (usually) or at my request (sometimes). I was made aware of every scrap of what you said after the editorial and commentary were posted because I warned Greg in advance that you would act in the manner that you have acted.{1} You have an amazing tendency to utilize the shuck and jive when criticized as well as take criticisms personally as attacks against you rather than as the intended "heads up" that they were intended to be.

As far as "responding" goes, you not only never gave a single substantive response to any of the things that Greg or I raised (a point I have made numerous times to you publicly but thus far to no avail) but you have continued to evade them to this day and misrepresent what we said constantly.{2} I cannot assume any longer that you do this in good faith -though for the first week of May I took this stance even when all evidence suggested to the contrary. I thought you would calm down and see that what we noted was true and accept it humbly. But instead you have sought to purge your site of stuff you previously said rather than own up to it -no matter what such admissions might convey to those who read them.

When your Shock-and-Awe campaign began (more appropriately described as Frame-and-Distort)

Wwe have distorted nothing Mr. Hand. I remind you that the one seeking distortion by trying to revise the historical record is you. And this has already been demonstrated by us in some areas…heck Dave has been doing so again on this very thread!!!

you fellows remarkably insisted (!) I did not even know (!) the difference between a prudential judgement of a Pope and dogma.

No, that is not what was said. What we actually said was that you have shown the pattern of treating prudential judgments as if they were matters of doctrine. You constantly equivocate on this and (as with everything else I have said about you) this assertion can be proven.

This astonishing assertion was quickly dispelled, though conspicuously unacknowledged by you,

We see no reason to entertain such obvious misperceptions on your part anymore than if you were to claim "prove" that we were "wrong" in asserting that "your ancestors were from Uranus." Since we never made such an assertion, why should we respond to you attempting to prove otherwise??? The same is the case with the "prudential judgment and dogma confusion" canard.

since it was precisely on the basis OF the pope's prudential judgement of the Popes (as opposed to the imprudential judgements of Mr. Bush which had lead to over 50,000 deaths by conservative estimates)

Again, you continue to utilize statistics which are dubious (at best) and blatantly erroneous if not outright fabricated (at worst). We took you to task for this too and you apparently refuse to listen. It does not help your credibility (or the credibility of your position) to continue with this kind of argumentation Mr. Hand.

We had many, many articles at TCR showing why "preemptive" war in general and THIS was in particular simply would not cut it by ANY crietria, much less by Bush's macho foreign policy.

Since none of us argued for the military option on the basis of pre-emption, those articles are not even germane to the subject. (Yet again you show ignorance of what you were criticized for.)

Even if the Pope were for this war (per impossible) I would be against it.

Interesting. And in that situation -provided that the pope had not made his position a binding one- you would be within your rights to do that however foolish it would be. I remind you that this was never about your positions per se Mr. Hand. But we have made that point before too and you continue to ignore it. This repeated evasion on your part cannot be a mere coincidence.

Karl Keating, FYI, is against the war and arrived at the position, as I did, independently, as opposed to being against it ONLY because the Popes are.

I arrived at my position independently as well. But it is interesting that you seem to think that those who differ from you were somehow incapable of this. As readers of Rerum Novarum are well aware, my views cannot be pidgeonholed despite your implications otherwise.

I don't agree with everything Karl and Scott write, but they are good and are apt to win converts rather than repel them.

I have had many people who have told me my work is both thorough and also charitable.{3} The only people "repelled" by my work are usually people who are incapable of having an irenic conversation where there is difference of opinion. But continue to spin that yarn too Mr. Hand…I am no longer surprised at such things from you. In fact, I owe a sparring partner (who has told me for over two years that you and Mr. Ferrara are two peas in the same pod viz. how you respond to criticisms) an apology. Up until your responses to Greg and my pieces from April 29, 2005, I was still naively defending you against that charge. For the record, you have shown me that I was wrong in that presumption…an odd one to make if there was actually the hatred of you that you have asserted (implicitly and otherwise) since that time.

That none of you want to stick to the issues that divide us, but to focus on persons is sad and telling stuff.

Mr. Hand, we have been sticking to the issues while you engage in libelous behaviour. I am beginning to wonder if you are not in some weird Bizarro world where things are the opposite of what they are in reality…

Shawn M even titillates others with talk of private email (tactics…)

The readers may well be interested in knowing that Mr. Hand acts differently behind the scenes than he does publicly. By contrast, I say nothing privately that I would avoid saying publicly. Those who pretend to be "Mr. Nice Guy" publicly and act the converse privately deserve to have this inconsistency pointed out. It removes false perceptions and gives observers a better picture of what reality is.

and pretends he got so many from me he had to turn off his email

There neither was nor is any pretending on my part. But since Mr. Hand brought it up, it was not the volume of the emails but instead their general heinousness of content that is the reason I blocked the email address. This functionally reclassifies the email in a gmail account as spam so I still get it…but it is generally treated as spam including being deleted or retained in an unread form.

(Amusing…I sent him what? Two, three brief ones as responses? If he wants to publish them let him (and let others beware ever writing this guy privately) or stop the tactical nonsense. They were brief and absolutely true.

First of all Mr. Hand, you sent me a lot more than two or three. As Dave and Chris can attest to, he sent us all group emails on on May 5th. He also sent me one on May 3rd which I never responded to. I have those emails on file. Further still, I responded to one of the two emails from the 5th on May 10th. That resulted on two more emails from him on that note in the very same day -the second one is where he started the ridiculous "stalking" accusation.

Between May 6th and my response on May 10th, I got at least seven more emails -two on May 9th and five on May 10th -though two of the ones on the 10th were to Jack Benedict so technically we need not count them as to me personally. I responded to his note to Jack shortly after I sent out the aforementioned response to what he sent me five days earlier. As I noted, that response got another response from Mr. Hand indicating that he was once again not going to bother reading something before passing judgment on it. And I got two more notes from him on May 11th -though the second was in response to a note I sent to him in response to the first of the two notes he sent me.

The last note was a reiteration of the "stalking" assertion and I decided at that point to compose a final thread on the matter for the weblog and publicly mention that I had blocked Mr. Hand's email in the process (because I did). I was sick of reading Mr. Hand's drivel and it is evident from the approach he was using on the mails that he was trying for some kind of entrapment -with some of the notes (particularly the second one where he accused me of "stalking) being supposedly "cc'ed" to certain so-called "attorneys."

The only thing Mr. Hand gets right in his account is that most of his emails were brief -a couple of them were as short as a paragraph or two and one was as short as a sentence or two.{4} But there was no truth whatsoever in their content.

Mr. Hand does not want to tell people that his notes were filled with insults and prevarications even more so than Mr. Hand has done publicly thus far. And one of them (of the two that he asked me to send to Jack Benedict) was so disgusting that if it was published publicly it would be quite an embarrassment for Mr. Hand.{5} Since the latter could quite obviously not respond to the arguments that I had set forth publicly on my weblog -and public prevarications do not constitute a valid response Mr. Hand- I did not see what value there would be in posting the note to Jack publicly. As I was trying to get Mr. Hand to start acting like a Catholic Christian should (and stop acting like a pompous and uncharitable jerk), such a public email publication would have only hindered those intentions not helped them. But enough on that matter and briefly on the subject of email publishing -since once again Mr. Hand cannot resist the path of prevarication over truthfulness in his public statements about me.

As far as my publishing of emails, I have made it clear from day one that I reserve the right to do so but as a rule I will not mention names or give out email addresses without permission from the sender in doing so. It is my judgment call and those who email me are made aware of it on the weblog disclaimer. But as I rarely publish the emails I receive (and far more rarer mention names or email addresses), I am the last person anyone has to worry about violating confidentiality requests.

Indeed, if it did not defeat the very purpose of doing so, I could name a number of people who wrote me for advice or counseling on something who did so because they trusted me to not publish what they had said.{6} And some of them are people who may be viewed by casual readers as either "personal enemies" or as people that would seem to have it not to their advantage to email me if I was the kind of sieve with email correspondence that Mr. Hand so uncharitably presumes. But then again, lacking charity has shown itself in recent months to be a common constituent of Mr. Hand's character. Why he acts this way I do not know but he does and I have many of the proofs. Likewise, those who have followed this whole episode can see for themselves that what I am saying is 100% true.

I gave Mr. Hand a number of chances to respond to our criticisms in a constructive fashion and he refused to do this. It did not take long before it became evident that Mr. Hand was not interested in any kind of dialogue -authentic or othewise. For that reason, I deemed it a waste of time to correspond with him further in private. And readers can judge from my weblogs how often I have deigned to do so publicly -with a few comments box bits at most being the extent of it up to now. So much for a so-called "obsession" about him and his apostolate. But that is not all.

For you see, since my blocking of the address merely reclassified his stuff as spam, I noticed when I went to delete stuff from the spam folder on May 20th or 21st (I cannot recall which) that there were four more emails from TCR in there. As TCR is a one person apostolate, I will give the readers one guess as to whom they were from. As I already had more stuff from him than I wanted in my gmail archives, I deleted two of them and kept the other two as representatives and they remain unread to this day. In short, if anyone was "stalking" someone, it was Mr. Hand who is the guilty party. But in a true example of projection, he accused me of what he himself was doing. But enough on that subject for now.

I only note these things here because (i) the record needs to be set straight, (ii) they are true, (iii) God is my witness of them, and (iv) I can document virtually all of them to prove it. It is a shame that I had to save what I did but Mr. Hand's attitude -not to mention the vileness of what he has sent- made it necessary. I also have on file every email I sent to him since this whole thing began and I stand by everything I said in them in substance if not always in tone.{7}

As with what was publicly posted to my weblog, the accuracy of what I have said is if not 100% then darn close to it. But as I do not plan to post those emails, the readers are encouraged to read what I have written on these matters not to mention what Chris, Greg, and Dave have written. Compare them to what Mr. Hand has said if you can find what he has said of course. His attempts to play history revisionist by deleting stuff he previously written rather than own up to having written them like a man is unfortunate but quite telling.

I didn't specifically include Greg and Shawn, who acted as "one"

As far as me and Greg supposedly responding as "one" that is also inaccurate. I do not usually write commentaries on guest editorials to my weblog -nor do I always agree with the material that is posted in that format but that is another matter altogether. However, with the subjects Greg covered, I felt it was necessary since (i) Greg's observations were true and (ii) I did not want readers presuming that there was disagreement between us on the issues that were covered when indeed there was substantial concurrence.

That is the reason I posted my commentary immediately after Greg's guest editorial so that they would be taken together by those interested in the subject matter covered. I naively figured that Mr. Hand would be much more of a gentleman than he has shown himself to be but I have already made that admission previously and I will not discuss it again here except to mention it in passing. As for the rest, I have clarified here what I intend to clarify for the time being. And as for one who is supposedly so "vulger" in my writings, I have received more complements for my weblog work than I could ever accurately count -both from rivals of my positions as well as kindred spirits.{8} Compared to the shrieking tones that have permeated TCR with increasing frequency for so many months now, I will take those unsolicited tributes{9} as speaking for themselves.

In closing, whatever you think of my work Mr. Hand, you are quite in the minority and (judging by those you tend to affiliate with), I do not see value in their judgments in this area since they are ideologues much the same way you are and have probably read much less than you have. Astute followers of these events already know that you have quite an ignorance of my work and how I have said it. But then again, when you emphasize the exception (read: my polemical side) and ignore the rule (read: my more irenic side), that is what we can expect. Ironically, that is the very sort of dialectical contrariness approach that was common in the Counter-reformation period of apologetics and to which Mr. Hand now accuses Dave of…but only since late April of 2005 for reasons which are obvious to those who have been paying attention.

Notes:

{1} Greg can vouch for the fact that I actually underestimated how bad it would be. (I thought you would react abruptly and then calm down and be more rational after a few go-arounds. As readers can see, the second part of that assumption on my part was in error to no small degree.)

{2} Heck, you could not even get straight my statements about certain parallels you had in your approach to that of the nineteenth century neo-ultramontaines. You responded there by posting an article you wrote on ultramontanism which was a non-sequitur to what I said. But then again, if you actually READ what was said, you would realize this.

{3} Including a number of them who disagreed with some or all of my positions. Contrary to what Mr. Hand asserts I am quite thorough on the issues I write about. With my essays I am more thorough than any Catholic writer I can think of in making as many of my sources readily available to my critics for easy examination a possible. (Dave could probably assert that the nature of what he does and some of the sources he has to use make it impossible for him to do this: an assertion with which I would concur btw.) With weblog stuff, time constraints do not allow me to be as thorough but I do make available the bulk of what I can nonetheless. Find for me a weblog or a website where as many of the referenced sources as possible are made available for the readers as at Rerum Novarum. I am unaware of any and certainly TCR cannot claim it is…not even close really.

{4} Lest readers presume something in the idea that Mr. Hand's emails were shorter than mine (often much shorter), it bears noting that it is much easier to send short emails if one is engaging in uncharitable prevarications and seeking to evade responding to viable criticisms. My longer threads were mainly pointing out Mr. Hand's falsehoods and to his credit he can pack a lot of them into a short email…perhaps a dubious distinction but one nonetheless.

{5} I do not envision actually publishing that email but if I ever did, I would contact Jack and ask him to compose a commentary on it to set into context the scurrilous statements of Mr. Hand so that readers would have both sides of the story.

{6} After the first email where they requested confidentiality, I made it clear in responding that I would continue to presume that request on their part with regards to what was discussed until they said otherwise.

{7} While nothing I said was anywhere near as heinous as what Mr. Hand wrote tone-wise, I did nonetheless not always respond in the best possible way tone-wise by my own admission.

{8} These have been from a variety of sources from people who once perceived me as an "enemy" (who later on came to respect my approach to dialogue) to others who in some form or another were converts as a result of my work -be they former Integrists or former non-Catholics of various outlooks.

Of the many who have written with unsolicited tributes, the one I now consider the most valuable was from the late Gerard Serafin who was quite the gentle soul. We had a few conversations (mostly private) and more than once he told me that he loved my weblog and what I did there. Pardon me if I consider the testimony of someone such as Gerard (may he rest in peace) to be of far greater value than those of you and your dyspeptic cronies Mr. Hand.

{9} As my history amply testifies to, I do not like bringing this kind of stuff up publicly because it is easily misunderstood. However, your misrepresentations (to put it mildly) made it necessary to set the record straight yet again so I had to (despite reservations).

2005-06-29 03:00

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Miscellaneous Notes and Notifications:

I have not gotten any emails on the subject yet but I am sure there are readers out there wondering how I could be so silent about the recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling which sanctioned property theft under eminent domain statutes by private entities. And in light of my manifold criticisms of the perversion of law in society over the years, the readers of Rerum Novarum certainly should expect me to weigh in on that matter at some point. Right now though I do not have the time to do the subject the justice it deserves and frankly, I am too pissed off about it to write in an appropriately detached fashion on the matter. But I will get to it in time my friends. In the meantime, here are some links from the archives to provide a bit of a hint as to some of where I will be going with that subject:

On Supreme Court "Constructionists, Whores, and Termites" (circa June 24, 2003)

A Brief Digression on the "Scylla/Charybdis" Conundrum of American Political Parties (circa May 24, 2004)

On the Supreme Court and Nominations of Judges --An Audio Post (circa September 8, 2004)

The Stupid Party Strikes Back (circa May 25, 2005)

On the 2006 Elections and Learning From History (circa June 21, 2005)

As far as President Bush's speech, I watched only some of it on replay. What I heard was good but I did not listen to enough to write anything substantive on the subject myself (from either a laudatory or critical standpoint). Nonetheless, Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online has an excellent article on not only the speech itself but also many questions that the nattering nabobs of negativism need to give coherent answers to if they want to be taken seriously in discussing this subject. More could be noted if there was additional time but there is not; ergo I leave you with what is noted above until (with God's will and your readership) I blog again...

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