Saturday, July 01, 2006

Miscellaneous Notes on the Supreme Court Decision on Military Tribunals

this is an audio post - click to play

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Briefly on the New Holy See Secretary of State Appointment:
(With Kevin Tierney)

Kevin's words will be in black font.

So Cardinal berton is the new secretary of state

Pitty it wasn't Ruini. :) Now I don't know much about Bertone. I know the Fatima types hate his guts. About the most I know is that the man has never been a diplomat, and as far as I'm aware, has never been that active on the geopolitical sphere. Could it be Benedict is changing the Secretary of State, so it isn't the "true pope" office that it was under Sodano? (Sodano wielded more power as Secretary of State than most before him, and was joked to be the real "man in charge" in the Vatican.)

Maybe he wants Cardinal Ruini closer to home for consulting with instead of travelling all over as Secretary of State. Bertone is doctrinally shrewd and he did serve at the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) for a number of years. It seems probable to me that Papa Benedict wants to make sure his Secretary of State does not muddle doctrinal matters with geopolitical/prudential ones the way Sodano at times did (among other personages like Cardinal Martino, Cardinal Laghi, Archbishop Tauran, etc). Either way, I think this is a solid B+ pick starting out...only time will tell the real tale of course.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Points to Ponder:

[I]t ain't the time
To learn how to swim
When the tide comes rushin' in. [Frank Trainor]


Responding to Another Accusation of Being "Afraid of Debate":
(Aka "Nothing Under the Sun is New" Dept.)

I'm gonna say this once and because you are outta Littleton, Massachusetts I'm gonna say it all r-e-a-l s-l-o-w. [What Terry Funk would say to Stephen Hand if he was writing this post]

As was expected, Stephen Hand did not react kindly to my public resumption of the Chronicles of Hand weblog. What I found rather amusing though is the extent to which he thinks other focus on him when (in reality) the purpose behind the weblog was to categorize some of the threads I am occasionally sent from others of Mr. Hand's exaggerations, errors, and downright disingenuous statements.{1} However, before readers think I have taken time to write this post to respond to one person, I want to make it clear that it goes much further and deeper than that: getting to the root and matrix of what is wrong with our society generally speaking.

Mr. Hand you see is merely a poster child (emphasis on child) for what is wrong with our society. He epitomizes the ever-increasing unwillingness or inability of people generally speaking to utilize the natural God-given lights of reason and logic --their ornamental paens to those disciplines notwithstanding. It is by their failure to do this that they make a mockery of reason and logic and by demonstration espouse (i) a rational sophism, (ii) a theological fideism, and (iii) a general solipsistic approach to reality which permeates their discourse. People such as your humble servant are an annoyance for these kinds of people because we refuse to play this game out of a respect for the aforementioned God-given faculties. But before this gets too far offtrack, I want to return to the purpose of this posting and also an explanation for why the Chronicles of Hand (C of H) weblog was founded and what it was (and is) intended to demonstrate.

After one too many wasted go-arounds with Mr. Hand, the idea of keeping a small archive of some of the more libelous assertions he has made against myself and friends/associates of mine{2} came to me in a flash and I ran with it (as is my wont with these kinds of things). The project was undertaken earlier this year and christened The Chronicles of Hand. though some parties thought The Chronicles of Handia would be more appropriate. The latter was envisioned essentially as a kind of hedge against Mr. Hand's continual attempts to claim innocence in the ad hominem department{3} and was a project worth doing for a while. The investment of time was miniscule and basically it would involve whatever readers of my weblog (who knew of Mr. Hand's animus against me and some of my friends/associates) happened to draw my attention to.

The aforementioned point seems appropriate to note at this time since I never once have gone to TCR to look for stuff to include on the C of H and do not envision ever doing that. However, the unfortunate circumstances from March of this year{4} made such an exercise in my mind absurd since there were greater (and more supernatural) factors that entered into the matrix of issues and which were far more deserving of the investment of one's time on. But that is neither here nor there.

I have said it before on more than one occasion{5} and I will say it again at this time: I can defend any position I have taken on any issue whatsoever. These are not merely words on my part but they have been backed up with actions which is a hell of a lot more than many people can say. However, just because I can defend any position taken does not mean that I will. There are time factors to consider of course as well as what issues are of greater importance than others in the hierarchy of disputation if you will. And as far as I am concerned, arguing for a position on its intrinsic merits or lack thereof utilizing the tools of reason and logic is a serious business and far too many of a sophistic bent either do not realize this or they fail to take seriously the principle that ideas are serious things.

People have fought for ideas, they have died for ideas, and this has not only not changed in the present but these things still occur. Therefore, what someone is willing to involve themselves in (should they set foot into the arena of ideas) should be focused on primary or serious matters and not secondary or ancillary griping. What interests me is the discipline of the dialogue.

I am willing to consider for engagement on various and sundry issues anyone else who shows a similar concern for what that entails. I am also interested in productive dialogue which means getting beyond the useless back and forth exchanges{6} where no one is willing to put their foundational presuppositions on the line and reapprise them at regular intervals. The latter is a process that by its very nature must involve respecting the faculties of reason and logic. That means one has to consider from time to time not only if the arguments they use to advance their position are good ones or not but even if their position itself is actually correct. As all of this probably sounds more complicated than it actually is, I will use the analogy of stocks and options to explain it in brief.

Those who are familiar with how stocks and options have a symbiotic relationship know that one of the reasons many investors like options{7} is because a small movement in the stock results in a magnified movement in the underlying option. This is the potential power inherent in dealing with foundational presuppositions of an individual: small shifts there can result in magnified movements in the individual's weltanschauung though sometimes it takes a bit of time for working out the ramifications of such shifts.

Mr. Hand is not interested in the slightest in wading into those waters. Instead, he wants to snipe at me for not allowing him to fill comments boxes at the C of H with ancillary drivel to waste both my time as well as that of others. He considers my refusal to play this game to be "censorship" on my part rather than an expedient attempt to keep focus on the actual issues and avoid distractions. I will however reverse my policy on the comments thread at the C of H if Mr. Hand is willing to take this request seriously. As it has been a while since I publicly said anything on this at Rerum Novarum, pardon the brief reiteration at this time if you have seen this stuff before:

Essentially, I took a look at the back and forth threads between Mr. Hand and his positional adversaries (including myself) and boiled it down to four points on which clarification was requested from him back in October of this year. Those points fell under the following headings:

Issue 1 - Magisterial vs. Non-Magisterial

Issue 2 - Recourse to Statistics Which Have Been Either Debunked or (At a Minimum) Have Been Challenged As To Their Veracity

Issue 3 - Use of Divisive Epithets by Mr. Hand to Distinguish Various Catholics Contrary to Explicit Magisterial Teachings Proscribing This Conduct

Issue 4 - Confusion on the Issue of Just War, Whose Authority The Criteria is Ascertained, Whose Authority a Just War is Levied, Etc. by Mr. Hand

I summarized the points covered under each heading in these words at the end of the posting (all footnotes excised):

--Viz. Issue 1, there are several points which need a response from Mr. Hand. They can all be summarized in Greg's recent question to Mr. Hand[...]. However, for the sake of greater exactness, I want to note the others which pertain to the latter. They are (i) a public request from me for Mr. Hand to clarify once and for all if Pope John Paul II's position on the war -which seems to be mirrored by his successor Pope Benedict XVI- constitutes Church teaching or not and (ii) should he answer in the negative on the matter, Mr. Hand needs to make it clear that he accepts the position on the matter that the Church does with the proper disposition of mind and in the future reflect this realization accordingly in his writings and statements on the subject in question.

If Mr. Hand responds to my request in the affirmative, he is called upon to produce the magisterial texts to support to support his usage of authoritative language and also to support his reference to the war issue as "grave" and justify this usage in light of the doctrinal clarifications of the present pope on these matters when he was chief theologian for the previous pope.

---Viz. Issue 2, Mr. Hand needs to explain (i) why he continues to parrot discredited statistics as he does and (ii) why anyone should take him seriously as a credible commentator on these issues in light of his continual parrotting of said discredited statistics.

---Viz. Issue 3, Mr. Hand also has to explain why he continues for ideological reasons to flout the teachings of Pope Benedict XV on the use of derisive labels as he does.

---Viz. Issue 4, Mr. Hand needs to explain why he reads into the words of Cardinal Ratzinger (on Pope John Paul II's view being one "of conscience enlightened by faith") sentiments not expressed by him. Furthermore, it would be nice if Mr. Hand could explain to us in light of what I have noted in this posting from Catholic sources[...] how his manifested views on just war (viz. who is the competent authority to assess the evidences and ultimately levy such a war) are at all congruent with the totality of the Catholic just war tradition.

While more could be noted, I think this suffices. One of the roles of dialogue is clarification and I have not been hesitant to clarify my positions over the years when others have questioned me on them. Mr. Hand mentioned having a debate but in truth, a dialogue is potentially far more productive than a debate. Mr. Hand has claimed I and others have misrepresented him on various issues. I have chosen these four issues to request from him further clarifications. In the interest of facilitating dialogue on these issues in accordance with the minds of the recent (and present) pope,[...] I humbly request of Mr. Hand clarifications on the points noted above. [Excerpts from Rerum Novarum (circa October 6, 2005)]

After eight months of Mr. Hand dodging the above requests for clarification --and I have reiterated this request about a dozen times in that span albeit none of them were in the past three months prior to this point-- any assertions that I "fear open debate" from him can easily be seen for what it is by those with eyes to see. But that is not all.

For I also have issued a challenge with him and several other persons in mind{8} but I do not want to touch on it until the above challenge is met first. (At least not with Mr. Hand.) Readers can judge from Mr. Hand's refusal to engage these issues who among the two of us is really afraid of engaging the issues publicly but for the sake of the slower sorts in Littleton, MA I will give a final hint: it is certainly not any of Us at Rerum Novarum.


{1} Generally pertaining either to me or to others I happen to know. I explained the reason for the weblog in these message box comments to Mr. Hand (who chalked the existence of the weblog up to some strange attempt to "flatter" him) in this manner:

The original idea of this weblog was to archive some of your more egregious public statements before you decided to airbrush them from your site. If you think categorizing a handful of your gaffes (and there is not enough time in the day to deal with them all even if we wanted to) constitutes "flattery" than you have a strange understanding of that term.

Unlike Mr. Hand, my archives are an open book whereas he does not maintain a public archive. He claims to archive stuff on his computer but that is essentially leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse for reasons I have outlined in the past on this very weblog -particularly HERE, HERE, and HERE.

{2} The difference between you and I with the ad hominem Stephen is that I make actual arguments and you make insulting insinuations and throw around terms you do not bother defining. Then when you are asked to define them, you ignore such requests. I fail to see how you think people should take you seriously when you do that. [I. Shawn McElhinney to Stephen Hand Via The Chronicles of Hand Comments Box (circa June 26, 2006)]

{3} In light of how he and not a few others like to try and revise the historical record by removing in various ways public statements they have made --and almost always without apology-- this seemed an interesting project for a while. And though I am hesitant to quote Ann Coulter; nonetheless, an observation she made about Al Franken is particularly applicable to this situation so here goes:

It's interesting that the most devastating examples of my alleged "lies" keep changing. As soon as one is disproved, I'm asked to respond to another. This is behavior normally associated with conspiracy theorists in tinfoil hats. One crackpot argument after another is shot down - but the conspiracy theorists just move on to the next crackpot argument without pause or reconsideration. Certainly without apology.

Those who wonder why I have not the slightest interest in entertaining a similar approach by Mr. Hand in the comments threads of the Chronicles of Hand now have your answer...well most of it anyway.

{4} See the thread located HERE for details.

{5} Miscellaneous Musings on Reason, Logic, and Their Proper Application Thereof--An Audio Post (circa June 8, 2006)

{6} I am interested in dialogue not mindless debate and certainly not with those who are serially prone to shunning actual arguments in favour of normative public whining and handwringing.

Oh and see the postings in footnotes one and two for ample evidence of this assertion on my part. Unlike Mr. Hand, I prefer to provide evidences for my assertions and not just talk since we all know talk is cheap. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 22, 2005)]

{7} I am of the view that options are like lemon juice when cooking up a portfolio: a little can go a long way and should not be overdone. (More on this subject in the future if I feel inclined to want to discuss it again on my own volition or if someone emails me on it, etc.)

{8} The threads from where this idea took root and has developed in subsequent postings can be reviewed in the following posts (listed from oldest to newest):

Miscellaneous Morning Musings on Blogging, the So-Called "Neo-Cons", and the Miers Nomination--An Audio Post (circa October 27, 2005)

Briefly Revisiting the Term "Neo-Con" and its Usage With Christopher Blosser (circa November 9, 2005)

"Tracking the Ever-Elusive So-Called 'Neo Con'" Dept. -A Continuing Series (circa December 4, 2005-March 6, 2006)

I note through March 6, 2006 not because the series is over yet but instead because I have simply not added to it since posting a thread on Dale Vree from New Oxford Review back in early March of this year where (despite everything else said about him in that thread) Dale at least comes the closest. (Essentially he defines it and then seeks to label with the term those who do not fit his definition: a subject for another time perhaps.)

Until there is an answer by those who frequently throw around the term "neo-con" without bothering to define it, the series will remain unfinished and ever-susceptible to my addition of yet more installments depending on time, circumstances, my mood to talk about it, etc.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Briefly on the Resumption of The Chronicles of Hand Weblog:

[Update: I tweaked this posting a bit so it reads less cluttered than it did when I threw it up in a matter of minutes yesterday. -ISM 6/26/06 1:30pm]

I was frankly quite content to let the Chronicles of Hand weblog be mothballed and remain in that state in perpetuity. Indeed, readers of Rerum Novarum who are familiar with what transpired in March of this year are aware that Mr. Hand had a family tragedy with his son of which I was sympathetic to for reasons too numerous to go over here in brief. I also had hoped that the situation would produce in him the kind of changes that can happen when people are drawn out of their own little worlds and into reality the way family deaths and/or sicknesses, etc can but obviously that did not happen. And while more could be noted on the matter than that, I do not intend at the present time to say anything else and instead move onto the reason for resuming the activity of the aforementioned weblog.

Essentially, the latest ignorant vitriol against yours truly was deserving of comment if only because of the common stereotypes that Mr. Hand is espousing. Without further ado, one can read HERE my interaction with some of the material he posted on 6/22/06 as sent to me via email.{1} For the time being, that is all that will be noted here except to remind readers of my previous request to not speculate on this matter and how once again your host's predictions were accurate as they usually are in non-sports related subject matters.


{1} I am not about to check to see if he has changed it since then but knowing his trackrecord, it is even money that he may well have done so. This is touched upon briefly in both the recent Chronicles posting and also in a recent audioposting where I discussed this problem that certain critics -Mr. Hand among them- have demonstrated in spades over the years on various and sundry subjects of disputation. The aforementioned audioposting can be listened to here:

Miscellaneous Musings on Reason, Logic, and Their Proper Application Thereof--An Audio Post (circa June 8, 2006)