Saturday, December 10, 2005

Miscellaneous Musings:

---I have found it rather annoying that the media reports on the war in Iraq and the presidents poll numbers as if the negative reaction majority parallels the view of the most extremist moonbats. As I have noted before on polling, it is very easy to manipulate poll numbers. And the truth of the matter is, a good percentage of those who are "dissatisfied with President Bush's handling of the war" are those who would support a less bureaucratic and more militarily focused approach over there.

For I happen to be one of those who would be classified as "dissatisfied with President Bush's handling of the war" and it is not because I think we should tuck tail and run like not a few of those who pose as "peacemakers"{1} would like to see happen. I would like to believe that they are simply ignorant of history and the can of worms that such an approach to the matter would inexorably open but on my more pessimistic days this is not possible to do.

---On the issue of the Congress, everyone knows that they voted themselves a pay raise again...this kind of action is about as predictable as the sun rising in the east. The phrasing from a Roll Call blurb was of particular interest to me:

Friday’s passage of the $65.9 billion Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development conference report included a provision that earmarked some $2 million for Members’ annual pay hike. [LINK]

Presumably you catch that folks: Congress passed a bill and snuck their pay raise in on a rider!!! Longtime readers of this weblog know about my disdain for rider proposals but I will nonetheless reiterate them anew here since (as usual) their pay raises were attached to a rider on another bill and it serves as a good premise for reminding people of my proposals for rider reform legislation at the state and federal levels (particularly the latter):

I will avoid discussing the constitutionality of federal disaster relief acts but this serves to show how the rider is used to pass stuff without accountability. Having noted that, here are my proposals for making this process accountable to the voting public.

1) Any proposed rider to a bill must have some reasonably demonstrable congruency with the subject of the main funding bill being voted on. The current practice of attaching unrelated or non-sequitur funding proposals to major funding bills would thereby be eliminated.

2) Any proposed rider should requires a separate congressional "rider attachment vote" so that those who want it and those who do not are on the record.

3) Any proposed rider should require at least two thirds concurrence by each house of Congress insuch that anything less means that the rider initiative fails to attach to the bill.

4) Any proposed rider that succeeds in getting two thirds concurrence by each house of Congress officially attaches with the provision that the president has the right to line-item veto that rider proposal.

5) If the president vetoes such rider proposal but signs the main funding bill to which it was attached, Congress can override and perminently attach said rider to the main funding bill with the concurrence of seventy-five percent of both houses of Congress. If said seventy-five percent concurrence of both houses of Congress cannot be mustered for an override, the override fails and the rider is officially declared dead.

6) And of course the rider proposals -pass or fail- must all be entered into the record for perusal of the people under the 1978 Freedom of Information Act along with (i) the names of the proposers and subsequent sponsors of said rider (ii) their party affiliation and (iii) the state which they represent. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 20, 2004)]

But the rider issue aside for a moment, I want to ask what Congress has done to justify a raise in pay. From what I can ascertain, they deserve a pay cut if anything. A Congress which cannot put together a budget that balances{2} does not deserve a pay increase. PERIOD. This is not rocket science folks. If the federal government got its nose out of the areas which it does not have Constitutionally delegated authority to intervene in, the budget could easily be balanced. Heck, at the current rate of taxation, the debt itself could be paid off in about seven years or less.{3} But there are too many selfish people out there who prefer their own isolated self-interests to the common good. There is also the issue of baseline budgeting which no one wants to honestly face{4} but that is to open another tangent I do not have the time to delve into at the moment.

---I mentioned in late October that there would be some emails on various subjects blogged in November. That was the plan but time did not allow for it to happen. However, I will be posting some of them before Christmas time-willing. There is also at least two more installments of the "'neo con' challenge" series which was first publicly issued in late October and revisited in early November. In response to the former, a series thread was started earlier this month{5} which will be added to in December. Unfortunately, those who were originally issued the challenge have been conspicuous in their universal silence viz. what was requested of them but their cowardice does not surprise me in the slightest.

---Finally, it is refreshing to learn that the CIA will be investigating their use of black highlighters on security documents since their founding in the late 1940's...hopefully we will not have to go another sixty years with the most important parts of top security documents highlighted in a colour that makes them next to impossible to read... ;-)

Notes:

{1} Frankly a good approach to these sorts would be to reinstate the US Sedition Act and put them under survaillance.

{2} Or at least a plan that balances the budget in a short span of time. I am not fond of congressional "promises" on these matters since they have a history of being pretty useless but then again, these are supposed to be Republicans who are concerned about these matters.

{3} [T]he Devilcrat House of Congress lied to [Reagan] about cutting three dollars spending for every dollar tax increase back in 1981. Had they done that, the economy would have grown us out of a deficit by about 1986-87 and there would have been surpluses the last two years of [Reagan's] term. (They proved that they were still lower than a snake's belly in a wagon-wheel rut when they pulled the same scam against Bush Sr.) [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 12, 2003)]

{4} [W]ho cares what the President proposes. The role of setting a budget is that of the Congress. The problem is that the role of impounding funds -shared by every president from Nixon back to Washington- was abolished by President Nixon when he signed the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Since then, deficits have skyrocketed and an important check on Congressional excesses was cast aside.

This Act needs to be rescinded...[W]hile there were still deficits prior to 1974, the national deficits starting in 1975 increased at an exponential rate.[...]

What needs to be reasserted -and vigorously so- is the ignored principle of the Constitution (and not the only ignored principle of the Constitution) that [t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. That is as good a place to start as any.

For those who are not aware, I just quoted the tenth amendment of the Constitution: an intended safeguard against exactly what we see today. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 31, 2003)]

{5} The two threads thus far of the "'neo con' challenge" which have been posted are viewable HERE and HERE.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(A Prayer for the Government)

We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope n., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, n., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen. [Bishop John Carroll (circa 1791-1798)]

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Tracking the Ever-Elusive So-Called 'Neo Con'" Dept.

This is a continuation of the thread posted HERE. To assist in continuity, the questions your host asked of the reader in the previous installment will be reposted here in blue font.

[D]o you think that these "neo-cons" have to have a particular position on certain issues other than abortion??? For example, does a "neo-con" have to have a particular position on the war in Iraq, on the death penalty, on environmental policy, on free trade, on government spending, on taxes, on labour, on mass transit, on "social justice", on civil rights, or on a myriad of other issues commonly bandied about by those who utilize (in a generally derisive fashion) that label of expression??? Are there certain issues noted above (or others I may have missed) which are prerequisites for being a "neo-con" and certain others which are more of an optional import??? Often certain people of Jewish descent are also referred to as "neo-cons" who are not Catholics (i.e. David Horowitz, Michael Medved) so I am wondering if catholicity is a non-negotiable requirement to be a "neo-con" or is it a frame of mind or reference that can be had by people of any demographic but merely is more common in the demographic you refer to above than in other demographics???

The "issues of the day" are insignificant, Shawn, fluctuating from one season to the next. Abortion today could be as hard-fought as, say, gambling is tomorrow. The heart of the matter is actually a question of one's loyalty: Is a man more loyal to his pope than to his President?

Interesting. Again you deserve props because this is a very unexpected definition. I will admit that those I primarily had in mind to present working definitions are themselves Catholics but since they are too scared to (at least thus far) present workable descriptions on this subject, I will accept yours as a starting point. I would however be remiss in noting that your dichotomization between religious and civil authority is not one that I accept. One who recognizes that each authority has its own sphere and properly keeps those spheres separated does not have to worry about what you are asserting. That there are not a few who fail to do this I will not disagree...indeed it is those kinds of people whom my challenge was primarily aimed at ironically enough.

The man whose mind is controlled by his pope will believe whatever his pope tells him to believe since that pope holds the residence of his eternal resting place by holding, as he does, the Eucharist. A President holds merely a man's national security, which becomes insignificant, comparatively. Everyone dies, eventually.

Again, it depends on how you quantify "belief." There are different genres of beliefs. What you are outlining above is one which makes it contingent upon accepting anything the pope says and that is a form of neo-ultramontanism. Again, those I was issuing the challenge to have thus far refused to answer questions I raised which (in some cases) were intended to separate areas of legitimate diversity (for Catholics) from those areas where there is not legitimate diversity.

Believing that, a man's allegience, then, is always for his pope and not for his "king." That man becomes, in essence then, a traitor.

If your dichotomization is accepted then that makes sense but I do not accept it. If you want to discuss this sometime, let me know. I for one do not see that there needs to be a "divided conscience" on this matter in the fashion that you do.

Ahh, the power in the Eucharist: the difference between heaven and hell!

Ahh, how freeing, rather, for kings and for nations to believe that man's salvation is assured by Grace Through Faith in Christ Alone!

Is this an attempt on your part to assert sola fide S??? If it is, then I should let you know that the sola fide hound does not hunt for reasons I have covered in years gone by both on this weblog and also in a web essay on justification. See this weblog thread for details on both.

P.S. No wonder the Eucharist gets so much attention these days, eh? (When I was a kid it was hardly mentioned.)

You must have grown up on the 1970's and 1980's then right??? Nonetheless, thankyou for offering a working definition to consider. All I will note on it at the moment is that it fits the description of some of those I issued the challenge to far more than those whom they commonly label as "neo cons." But that is neither here nor there.

To be Continued...

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(On Some Catholic Bloggers)

I have noticed a mentality among some Catholic bloggers which I usually describe to myself as "auto-magisterial." It seems to me to derive from the attitudes and practices of Evangelical Christianity.

Evangelical Christians, not having a magisterium, tend to become easily convinced by their own opinions and to treat them as definitive. This is characteristic of Protestantism as a whole, of course, and is the reason why it has splintered and continues to splinter into multifarious sects and parties.

Once Evangelical Christians become Catholics, some of them tend to keep the habit of mind. And some bloggers--not all converts from the Evangelical churches--tend to exhibit these or similar attitudes which seem proud and intellectually arrogant. Often, they are just trying to be good and loyal Catholics, but they are led to a sort of neo-Ultramontanism which can't see the difference between binding Magisterial teaching (even the non-infallible kind) and explanatory glosses or prudential judgments or even personal opinions...

Stephen Hand's treatment of the War in Iraq is a glaring and extreme example...there is something about the easy and often adulatory audience on the net, combined with the authoritative note that tends to creep into their pronouncements that breeds a sort of hothouse pride that seems unhealthy. ["Jeff" (circa 12/04/05)]

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

"Tracking the Ever-Elusive So-Called 'Neo Con'" Dept.

[Update: Upon reviewing the introduction of this post again earlier today, it was evident that the first paragraph was too long and needed to be adjusted a bit for a smoother text flow. That was done by dividing it into two paragraphs and supplying some additional segue bits. - ISM 12/5/05 1:58 pm]

Readers of this humble weblog are asked to consider what the Loch Ness Monster, Sasquatch, and the existence of aliens have in common. In all three cases, there are those who are in varying degrees obsessed with proving the existence of those creatures but thus far, there has been no incontrovertible proof brought forward. However, despite that and the way some of those zealots can react when their hobby or (perhaps in some cases, livelihood) is challenged, at the very least they have brought forward some evidences (whatever else you want to say about them) to attempt to substantiate the claims made. The same cannot be said for zealots of another type and with a different agenda...the latter being the subject of this thread posting you are currently reading.

There are after all certain individuals who similarly have a kind of fetish with the term "neo con" and like to use the expression (usually in a derogatory fashion) in application to a lot of different people. This attitude is of course similar to a kind of cultic deadagenting whereby the cult member seeks a pre-emptory assassination attempt of the character of a critic rather than having the common decency to consider the criticisms made on their merits or lack thereof. Your host cannot be the only one who believes that if the zealots who love to throw around the term "neo con" in a blanket and derisive fashion were to meet us all at least as far as the apologists for Nessie, Sasquatch, and space aliens have that the aforementioned people could be taken at least somewhat seriously. However, that has thus far not happened. With that in mind, Our intention with this series (and any additions to it) is to assist the aforementioned ideologues in establishing what could be called motives of credibility{1} for their claims.

The readers are reminded before we begin this thread (and potentially add to it over time) that your host has sought to point out the inappropriateness of this kind of labelling on many occasions...the core problem is the same even if there are varying frames of reference if you will. And with the case of certain personages who love to use this term who have thus far shirked in true chickensh*t fashion from taking responsibility for their own past and present statements, it seemed appropriate to your host to issue a very simple challenge to such people to identify the characteristics of what a so-called "neo con" is, what their underlying philosophies are, what are signature issues where they have readily identifiable positions, etc.

This is surely not a difficult thing to do; however, the manner in which the perpetrators have fled like vampires from a crucifix from the aforementioned challenge has been for Us very telling to say the least. Certainly We understand why they want to avoid that one so it seemed appropriate to issue the second and much easier challenge: produce evidences to argue for the existence of these so-called "neo cons." We at Rerum Novarum first noted this idea publicly in late October of 2005 in an audioposting{2} and followed it up a bit later with a brief revisiting of the subject with Christopher Blosser. In other words, it has not been for want of trying on the part of some people to challenge these kinds of people to put up or...well...you know the rest.

The aforementioned unsavoury sorts (to put it nicely) have ignored such simple requests for accountability and have continued to prattle on about these so-called "neo cons" including labelling certain parties as such when they have not bothered to explain what their criteria is for doing this. Your host must confess as a result of these circumstances that he has greater faith in the existence of Nessie, Sasquatch, space aliens, etc. than he does for those carping critics actually proving either (i) the existence of their fabled "neo cons" or (ii) that they even have a spine themselves and are not invertebrates. That is all that We can conclude based on what has happened to date which is why it seems appropriate to establish a series where this issue can be dealt with intermittently.

The idea for this series came about unexpectedly when your host found in his email a note from a reader who had responded to the previously noted audiopost challenge and sent in some proposed critieria. The rest of this post will be the first of the two emails received on the matter from that person whose words below will be in black.

Dear Shawn,

I regret if I'm late in responding to your request for definitions of the word "Neocon." Please forgive me; I only just listened to your audio blog on the subject. If you are still taking suggestions, however, here you go:

The New Conservatives are those relatively new to America's conservative party, which is long known as the Republican Party. The Republican Party was traditionally home to the fiscal conservative, business-building, profit-making, job-producing Capitalists.

Since Rerum Novarum was penned by PLXIII one hundred years ago and until at least the last Presidential election of 2004, when John Kerry was threatened with ex-communication for voting against Rome's wishes (dragging Catholics away from the Democratic to the Republican Party -- no matter how they really feel about abortion -- but concerned that they might be next for voting for them) the Democrats in America became known as the "victims."

Thanks to PLXIII's encouragement in Rerum Novarum to pipe up against traditional American Republicans, these victims began beefing about the jobs the Republicans made for them by investing in industry and risking it all on free commerce, job-producing capitalistic ventures. They handed out jobs to these "neo-victims" eagerly and even advanced those who showed initiative by showing up on time for work, for instance. You see, these otherwise hard-working people became convinced due to the anthem preached in Rerum Novarum that they were "victims" who should oppose all that the Republican Party stood for. Oppose Big Business! Oppose those with money and power! Oppose all those without whom we are dependent upon government handouts!

It began formally with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal years but eventually moved through the Kennedy/Johnson administration's Great Society as well, thanks to the influence of fiercely committed Catholics in the Democratic Party. These "victims," who had before happily cashed the paychecks they earned by the sweat of their brow before Rerum Novarum, became today's breed of Democrats who stand in line, now, at a window in the government center to collect the "paycheck" doled out to them from Uncle Sam for doing nothing but standing there once a month with their hand out. And all those who work for a living and pay taxes to support their "jobs" are, in reality, their slaves.

In short, New Conservatives, i.e., "neo-cons," Shawn, are the traditionally Democratic Catholics who moved over to the Republican Party en masse on the abortion issue -- but who have yet to change their allegience to their pope. And they are often woefully ignorant altogether of the damage done to this country and its citizens by the foreign power of the papacy.

Well S, you deserve props for setting something down on paper. Give me some time to mull over what you wrote and I will see if I take issue with anything you say.

In scanning the thread briefly (I will read it more in detail later), you did not mention certain specificities I was looking for so I will highlight them here and ask for further input.

For example, do you think that these "neo-cons" have to have a particular position on certain issues other than abortion??? For example, does a "neo-con" have to have a particular position on the war in Iraq, on the death penalty, on environmental policy, on free trade, on government spending, on taxes, on labour, on mass transit, on "social justice", on civil rights, or on a myriad of other issues commonly bandied about by those who utilize (in a generally derisive fashion) that label of expression??? Are there certain issues noted above (or others I may have missed) which are prerequisites for being a "neo-con" and certain others which are more of an optional import??? Often certain people of Jewish descent are also referred to as "neo-cons" who are not Catholics (i.e. David Horowitz, Michael Medved) so I am wondering if catholicity is a non-negotiable requirement to be a "neo-con" or is it a frame of mind or reference that can be had by people of any demographic but merely is more common in the demographic you refer to above than in other demographics.

Seriously, I think these questions are good ones since we have here a term that is utilized a lot and not a few of its users are lacking interest in providing answers to these kinds of questions.

Why, I'd bet a dollar to a donut, Shawn, that you, in fact, are the epitome of a "neo-con." Right?

Not by your definition from what I can ascertain at a brief glance. But thanks for providing some pointers for consideration. If I can persuade you to respond to the questions I have in the paragraph above (for additional clarification), it would be appreciated.

To be Continued...

Notes:

{1} What is meant by motives of credibility are criteria that themselves contribute to substantiating the potential veracity of what is being asserted. Thus, for those who propagate and widely apply the term "neo con" who do not bother to provide said motives of credibility for their usage and application of that term, there is no reason to presume that they have any credibility on the matter in question.

{2} Though it had been mulled about for some time and discussed in private channels prior to the aforementioned audioposting.

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